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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Upsides and Downsides

It's kind of cold in my house right now.  It's not so cold that everyone is wearing their winter coats inside (although that has happened before), but it's cold enough that I've pulled out my down slippers and jacket.  Which is kind of surprising, considering that just two weeks ago we were sweltering in ninety-plus heat.  Then the falls rains came and everything got cold.

Our house stays pretty cool in the summer, cool enough that I only have keep split packs running in the rooms that I'm actually in.  Its back half is dug into a hill, so the temperature doesn't fluctuate too badly.  This is good for 70+ temperatures, but once the temperature drops below 70, the cooler-inside-than-outside feature isn't such a good thing anymore.  This is generally a feature of masonry built houses, and so when the temperature dropped to fifty degrees, I had Brandon put in a work order to turn on our heat.

Our radiators are run off a couple of American hot water heaters which were put in by the embassy when our house joined the housing pool.  The previous system was a coal-fired stove.  I'm not sure how to do the voodoo that makes the heaters run the radiators and heat our water, so when we want heat we have to ask someone who knows the magic to come and give us heat.

So the Monday after a weekend of cold weather, Brandon put in the work order.  Monday passed and I pulled out all of the down comforters.  Tuesday came and the children decided that fall was really here to stay and reluctantly put on pants, long shirts, and socks.  Wednesday Brandon made a visit to the magic-making men and on Friday they showed up.

Our bathroom toilet seat also needed work - one of the bolts holding it on had snapped - so two of our friendly facilities maintenance men showed up to wave their magic wrenches and make my life better.  I love not having to perform maintenance on our house.  One day this will come back to haunt me when I'm 65 and don't know how to change my own lightbulbs, but for now it's really nice to have professionals fixing my leaks and repairing my dryer.

When they were done, the tall skinny man who speaks English better than the other one, called me down to explain that they had turned on the heat halfway and did I want it on all of the way?  Yes, please turn it on all of the way.  I'm okay with being a little hot if I don't have to wait for someone to come back to my house to finish the job.

"Okay," he shrugged, "we'll leave it on halfway and if it's still cold in a day or two, put in a work order and we'll turn it on the rest of the way."  Then they left.

I shrugged inwardly and went to go inspect my fully functioning toilet seat (did I ever tell you how we spent two weeks with none at all?  In January?).  My friend had kindly slid the one functioning bolt back together but not attended to the broken bolt.

And the next morning our third floor was sixty degrees.  The day after that it was fifty-eight.

Being taken care of by someone else is really, really nice.  When random Tajiks come and ring my doorbell and tell Brandon that we haven't paid the water bill, it's not my problem.  The whole neighborhood can be dark and cold and my generator (which magically always has gas) keeps me warm and light.  If my bookshelves are getting crammed, I can ask and have another one show up at my house and carried right to the place where I need it.  I'm not quite sure that, despite having five children and taking them all over the world, I can quite call myself a full-fledged adult.  Because real adults actually pay rent and have to deal with flooded basements.

But every now and then being taken care of isn't quite as nice.  Because if I don't know how to turn on my heat I can't.  And I spend days in a cold house wondering when it won't be cold anymore.  My toilet seat threatens to slide me onto the floor several times a day because I have no idea where to buy the correct bolt to screw the darn thing on.

One day I'll be able to march down to Home Depot and ask the kind men where I can find the toilet seat bolt and go home to fix it on the same day it broke.  My heat will turn on with the flick of a thermostat, even switching between heat and air conditioning whenever the fancy strikes it.

Then I'll remember the days of pampering with nostalgia and think that I never had things so good.  But I will have a warm house.

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