Sisyphus the Homeowner

It’s May 4th and Spring is officially here in New England.  Still a danger of frost, mind you, but the world is blooming.  I’ve been away from home for five full days and as with any extended trip I take a moment to take stock of the house, the pets, the yard and the pool to see what’s changed.  With Bodhi aging I started with him, and sure enough his overall well-being is much worse than it was on Monday.  He’s reaching his time, and we all know it.  For now I wanted to get him outside so he could relieve himself with dignity and I carried him down the deck stairs to the backyard.

First thing I noticed was the sound of the pool filter making a strange sound and a quick glance at the pool betrayed the reason; the water level was eight inches lower than when I left on Monday morning.  Big problem.  I quickly shut off the filter (thinking the damage is done to the pump) and walked around the pool looking for the source of the leak.  As I write this I still don’t know, but for that much water to be drained from the pool it must be mechanical.  I cursed the timing as this would have been something I would have noticed had I been home.  Kris doesn’t focus on things like this, especially with an aging dog crapping all over the house while she’s at work.

Beyond the dog and the pool, I noticed the many other changes that occur when you’re away for any time.  The world is constant change, and especially in early spring.  The grass is growing again, which is encouraging given the many bare spots that revealed themselves when the snow melted.  Several shrubs have significant winter kill, which is discouraging given the hope with which I planted many of them just a year ago.  Yet even these show signs of life.  Patient monitoring and maintenance may be enough to bring them back.

Being a homeowner who travels requires a commitment to maintenance.  You’re signing up for lawn care, housework, mechanical troubleshooting, home decor changes, and ongoing financial outlay to fix or replace things that go astray.  These things ground you when you want to immerse yourself in this world.  Or they handcuff you as you look to the world outside.  It’s a state of mind, really.

Today I need to roll up my sleeves and get to work maintaining that world we signed up for twenty years ago.  Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill only to see it roll down to be pushed up again for eternity, being a homeowner means you’re doomed to repeat the same tasks for eternity.  Last year it was the hot tub (still is), this year it’s the pool.  Last year I re-seeded parts of the lawn, this year I’ll be re-seeding parts of the lawn.  Such is the fate of the homeowner.

There’s a calculation that every homeowner goes through in their heads; is the ROI on this worth the effort?  As an empty nester with a serious wanderlust trait, at what point does it make sense to sell the place and gift these Sisyphean, perpetual tasks to others?  Alas, the answer is… not yet.  For all the maintenance headaches, I love having a pool.  For all the weeding and re-seeding and winterkill, I love having a garden.  For all the sadness of watching your dog age, I love having him around as long as he’s not suffering.  And so it goes, around and around.

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