I just bugged out of the house instead of freaking out inside it, and now find myself down the street in a slightly crappy café, with wonderful espresso, a warm croissant and no internet – which is the only thing that really makes it slightly crappy. (I went to the good café which has all of the above, but it was full, probably because it is the good café. I’ll shift to somewhere with internet and post this soon.) What this café does have going for it is that right now it’s not my house. I had to stay long enough for the work to be started and to understand where things were going and what they were doing, and I had to stay while the energy audit was done, but as soon as I could I bugged out of that joint. It’s a crazy place. Everything is in the wrong spot. Everything.
Now, I’m not the sort of person that dirt bothers. I’m not. I’m not very tidy, I don’t scrub hardly anything unless I’m worried or having company, so you would think that a big reno like this wouldn’t throw me much, but truth be told, while I fight against it every minute of every day, deep down inside I am one of the worlds least flexible people. I don’t like noise. I don’t like people in my house, I don’t like people touching my things or invading my space. I can’t bear it if Joe sits at my desk, so people in the house touching my things, messing up my stuff – moving my stuff, cutting holes in all my floors and ceilings and running power tools while smashing out plaster and lathe is a really, really big challenge for me, and Joe called twice this morning to make sure I was "handling it", on account of his belief that I have a history of not managing renovation well, which I suppose might be true if you think that flipping out and attempting to micro manage, interrogate or over-control the craftspeople in your house before bursting into tears and taking a three hour bath with the door locked is an unreasonable response to home renovation… which I do not.
In any case, I was struggling but doing well, and I stood a chance of portraying a normal human until they blocked my access to the coffeemaker and started saying "uh-oh" while peering into the heaps of rubble, and even then I might have made it, had they not accidentally bumped into a wall and knocked down something I love. It’s broken, and not fixable and I was upset. They are nice men, they are doing a great job, these things happen, they were not reckless with my things… It was not worth much, it might even be replaceable, and it’s not like I don’t have too many possessions anyway, and really, if I didn’t want that in the line of fire I should have moved it to protect it and …. well. That’s the logical argument.
The illogical part of me however, barely managed to control myself long enough to mumble "It’s okay" and to jam my knitting and laptop in my bag and make it onto the street before pulling out my phone and calling Joe to tell him that NOT ONLY are they touching my stuff but now they are breaking it and that the whole house is trashed and that all of our things have been moved – all of them and that the wardrobe in the back room has to be on the other side of the room FOREVER and that it’s the wrong side, all wrong, and that I just don’t think that is going to work but I have no choice, and there are BIG HOLES in the floor and you can see the rooms below through them and that they are big enough for the cat to fall through, and isn’t anybody worried about that? That the cat might fall through? Is anyone concerned? And how about those big saws. Do they need to be that loud? Are they thinking about the wiring? Does he know that shelf by the front door? The one that we keep bike helmets on… it’s gone. Now we have nowhere to keep helmets and also we have one less hook by the front door and some of the coats won’t fit and really, this means we can never have company again because we’re short coathooks and also, that wall was plaster and lathe and now it’s all rubble and that made a huge mess and I would vaccuum it up except they’re still making more mess and did I mention that the energy guy sealed up the house with a strange fan thing and that .. well, it was weird and the world is weird enough without our home getting weird and did I tell you that they’re not just touching all of my stuff but they’re touching yours too – and they saw the bulk of the stash and I don’t think they were okay with it because the guy just kept pointing and saying "Is that wool? .. Is that wool?" Is that…. more wool?" and you know what? People think I’m crazy enough when I tell them I write "knitting humour". I don’t need them coming into my own home and thinking I’m crazy and those people do think I’m crazy and that’s making me crazy. It’s a circle of crazy. That I just don’t know what to say when people are touching and breaking my stuff and I do know it’s crazy, I know it is, but they even went in our bedroom, and they need to move not just the downstairs wool but the upstairs wool too, and that I just can’t stand it.
Now, Joe and I have been together for a long time, and he knows that I’m only able to appear normal as long as nobody messes with me too much, and Joe listened to all of that, while I’m yelling and pacing and telling him all of it, and he finally says "Honey? Honey. Are you going somewhere where you won’t talk to people and nobody will talk to you?" So I said I was doing that now, that I was walking to the café and I told him too that those guys in our house blocked off the coffee maker and that the toaster was dusty on the inside now, and that I didn’t even know how you got plaster out of a toaster so I hoped that he bloody well had a plan to cope with that, and furthermore… and he interrupted me.
"Steph, you gotta get away from the house and not talk to anybody. Don’t go back there. Go to my mum’s if you have to, nobody will talk to you there. Go somewhere quiet and knit something. It’s going to be okay"
… and as soon as he said it I realized that he was using soothing tones with me, like you do with someone who’s way close to the edge, and I stepped back from it. Not all the way, but far enough that I can order coffee without trying to show my server the pictures of the holes in my floor, and from here I’m going down the street the otherway to the pub with the internet so I can post this, and I’m even going to have myself a little afternoon pint, and then I’m going to knit and knit sorting out stitches until I feel better, and I’m going to think about these questions.
How do non-knitters handle stress? I mean, I know they must do something, since it’s not like I see them all weeping on the bus all the time, but when everything in their lives is all messed up, what is the thread of sanity and sameness that runs through it and keeps them from being a lunatic? Does knitting attract people who need something to moderate stress more than others? Do you think that you use knitting to moderate your behaviour, and in this spirit of this shirt (I knit so I don’t kill people) do you think your behaviour would be different if you didn’t?
Thoughts to renovate (and knit) by.