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There’s nothing like a toilet to make a house a home

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Courtney Dunham Correspondent

We all know the journey can be a long one, but it’s safe to say when you get there, a toilet will be inside.

The big moving day into my new place was set for this past weekend. I showed up with great anticipation to marvel at the changes my landlord had mentioned a few weeks before. It’s a quaint, little duplex that was badly in need of a makeover. I suppose back in the 1970s, its burnt orange, shag carpet and “no words to describe” vinyl floor (my landlord joked that it’s what you’d see in one of Saddam Hussein’s brothels) offered quite the interior haven.

The landlord promised new carpet, floors and an updated toilet. I said yes to my new abode and all of its renovations. But when I showed up eager to move in Saturday, the toilet was missing. Also MIA was the new carpet. But next to the toilet, this was nothing.

Seeing my disappointment at the renovations not being complete and my apartment lease up the next day, my landlord quickly spoke up.

“Well if you have no place to go, you can still move in this weekend if you don’t mind not having a toilet,” he said. “It’d only be for a day or so, and there’s always behind a bush in the back yard if you can’t hold it.”

I think of myself as a reasonable person, but I couldn’t hide my obvious horror at this suggestion.

Out loud I said, “No, that’s impossible. I go to the bathroom A LOT.”

Mumbling, walking away I said, “Yeah ya moron, I’ll just grab a leaf too while I am out there as there’s no need for toilet paper, either, in the great outdoors.” I was never any good at the whole pulling over on the side of the road/behind a bush thing – too messy, no matter how much I arched my bum back.

Suddenly, the shag carpet didn’t look so bad, nor was the news that it may take up to a week for the new stuff to be installed. The carpet was coming, and I could still technically move in. But waiting for a toilet even for a day – never!

I weighed my options, bush excluded. Do I remain one more evening at the nightmare apartment – now with no bed – or travel down to Salem to my estranged husband’s place? While staying at my toilet-less duplex was not an option for me, others had a different view. Even my estranged husband, who helped me move, suggested along with the landlord that it was “doable” for a night or so.

“You could always go to the office, and use the toilet there,” he said.

When I was with him this weekend, I was reminded of how helpful he can be and how our remaining friendship makes the break-up hard, almost debatable at times. But when he says something like this, I wonder if he ever knew me at all.

“Are you for real? Do you have any recollection of exactly how many times I get up throughout the night and have to go?”

“Just go to the office really late tonight, and then first thing in the morning. It will be fine.”

All these fix-it suggestions were coming from men who can simply aim and fire – no squatting required. Outwardly, I said, “No, I just can’t do it,” as if it were the hardest task I could imagine. Inwardly, though, I secretly debated the scenario.

“Let’s see, if I stop drinking anything now (at 5 p.m.), I could do exactly what he is saying, if I had to.”

I almost had myself convinced until the revelation that my “had-to days” were over.

“I’ll just stay at the apartment. I can’t go without a toilet,” I announced to the two men awaiting my next hysterical statement.

Sure, it would have been easier to just drive back to Salem, and sleep where there was a bed, carpet, a couch and cable TV already hooked up. It wasn’t my home, but it still possessed most of my former, comfort belongings. Then I remembered how it felt to buy my couch recently, and all the excitement came back.

All of the renovations will be complete soon. I just have to be patient. There’s that word again that seems to have grabbed a hold of my life – patience.

I moved in completely on Monday night with a new toilet, by golly! Well, almost new. He left the old lid with most of the paint chipped off, but at least there’s somewhere for me to plant my bum instead of squatting outside.

My first night there felt exciting, scary, new, weird, empty, lonely and exhilarating. But mostly, it just felt different. And I did something I hadn’t done since I was a little girl. I left the hallway light on right outside my bedroom – my grown-up night-light. There’s nothing like a stream of light peeking through the door to make a situation a little less scary.

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