We have a rather large concrete room off the kitchen-end of our 1939-built house. Our home is on a hillside, and the concrete room is the foundation for the 2 1/2 car garage the original homeowners added on after converting the one-car garage to a TV room in 1948. We know the year because when we remodeled the garage turned TV room, they used old newspapers for insulation. The papers were all dated 1948. Very fun to read. Interestingly enough, we have lived in this house (purchased from the original family) for going on 24 years, and we are currently on the third remodel of that one room. As mentioned in previous posts, our house was boarded up when we bought it in 1996 (Our own grey gardens). The first time we tackled the room, it was actually necessary for habitation. I wanted it for the boys’ play room and so we did what we could on a very limited budget. The room was crumbling in place as it was. We removed old cracked glass block where windows should have been, we covered the broken up linoleum tiles on the floor with thick padding and decent carpet. We put in a new wood fireplace surround and covered the acoustic tile ceiling with drywall. When they converted it from a garage to a TV room, they put in a fireplace since the room is directly above the office, on the main floor, which also had a fireplace. I am actually not a fan of wood-burning fireplaces, and this house came with four. We have since converted two of them to gas, and walled-up one of them. Since we didn’t have a lot of money back then we made some very frugal decisions, and mostly covered up the bad stuff, something I hate doing, but we did what we had to do. In the end, the room worked as a great play room for the boys and it was right across the hall from their bedroom.
Time passed, the boys grew out of their “play room” and we had a bit more money, so in 2006, we remodeled the room. At this point I wanted everything uncovered and replaced. It was a monster of a job because the house is old and things had shifted, but eventually it was done. The acoustic ceiling tiles were replaced with drywall and new can lights. The linoleum tiles were scraped up and the floor was floated and then re-carpeted with a high end wool wall to wall. Cheap window coverings were replaced with custom fabric blinds, the dated wood fireplace mantel was replaced with sleek steel and the wood burning fireplace was converted to a beautiful horizontal gas insert. Shelving was installed, plus a new 65″ television with 6-point speaker system and an old large sectional sofa from the office was reconfigured and re-upholstered in leather. We moved our business office in 2006 and so we had a number of furniture items that needed to be re-homed. That sofa, which had been purchased for our corporate office lobby, was one such piece. Another stranded piece of furniture was a large, old desk… but I’ll get back to that. This newly remodeled family room was a favorite game playing, movie watching spot of both our boys, but especially The Peacemaker and his friends. Nearly every weekend, teenage boys slept over on the big leather sofa. Sometimes I miss those days.
That family room held up quite nicely until one day last November a meth addict broke into our house and destroyed the room (meth addict). There was, quite literally, blood everywhere. He had attempted to jump out a large picture window after first throwing a huge planter through it. He cut himself quite badly. The Hazmat clean up crew came in that night and removed everything with blood on it, which included a big chunk of the wool carpeting, the upholstered coffee table, leather cushions from the sofa, window coverings, blankets, pillows, accessories, a chair, plus numerous items from my home office across the hall. The room sat mostly empty for months as the insurance company calculated the damage and sent in their team to replace the window, and the flooring. We chose hardwood to match the rest of the house, instead of carpeting. They also repainted all the walls. The room still sits mostly empty waiting for new furniture. The insurance company actually wanted us to replace everything versus trying to clean it. They didn’t want us to have PTSD from the bloodied items.
The one thing to survive the home invasion, was my $2500 elliptical, which was thoroughly cleaned by the Hazmat crew and then moved from the family room, where I used to use it while watching television, down to the big concrete room off the kitchen. That room has also had a number of iterations. When we purchased this house, that room was called the bomb shelter. Although it is made of concrete and has no windows, it does have a door to the outside, which would make it vulnerable to pretty much anything catastrophic, but I still to this day call it the bomb shelter. The original owners were LDS, Latter Day Saint, mormon and apparently they used the room for their “year’s supply.” It’s a mormon thing. Preparedness for catastrophic events. Some of my immediate family is mormon and I can tell you, they have not had to go shopping for any dry goods during this pandemic. When they say “year’s supply,” they mean it. Plenty of paper products, rice, flour, beans, canned goods, etc… they have this detailed way of moving items in and out to keep everything fresh. Not a bad idea at all!
Anyhoo…. our bomb shelter is currently being used as a hard cider making room, storage for canning supplies, and holiday needs, etc… There is a big industrial sink and an extra refrigerator plus last year we set up an amazing gym for The Peacemaker. We purchased a squat rack with lots of weight options, a bench, racks of free weights and medicine balls, and a big punching bag mounted to the ceiling plus mats, yoga supplies, and of course the elliptical.
Unfortunately, during the winter the room accumulated a bunch of outdoor deck furniture, BBQ, hoses, etc… and The Peacemaker has been wanting us to clean “our stuff” out of “his gym.” One item that sits quite prominently in the bomb shelter is the old desk that came out of Blue Eyes’ downtown office when we moved in 2006. Blue Eyes had been using it as a work surface for making his cider. The desk is, frankly, a huge trigger. It is the desk his secretary purchased for him all those years ago. His second acting out partner (feeding the beast). The woman he had sex with in his office. For some damn reason, he loves that desk. For all I know, he and his secretary had sex on that desk.
The Peacemaker had finally had it and two nights ago he decided he wanted his gym back. He put together some shelving his dad had purchased last year and started organizing some of the cider-making supplies. With his dad, he moved the deck furniture and BBQ back out onto the deck. He asked me about some boxes I needed to go through. I was happy he was making the effort, and I totally understood his need for organization in his workout space. So, we had a discussion about where things should go and I said I wanted to get rid of the big, old desk. The Peacemaker had no clue the history of that desk. He started to say he didn’t think we needed to get rid of it. That it worked well for cider making purposes. I said that it is way too large and would free up a lot of space and we could use the kitchen table for that part of the cider process. It’s much easier to keep clean in the kitchen anyway. He wasn’t exactly arguing with me, he just wasn’t agreeing with me. I didn’t want to go into why I didn’t want that desk around anymore. He said, “Dad really likes that desk.” I couldn’t take it anymore, so I just walked away. Blue Eyes has not wanted to get rid of that desk, for years. I’ve tried not to let it bother me thinking he really just likes the damn desk. But now I don’t see any need to keep it. It’s a trigger, a reminder of his bad acts. It concerns me that he would even want to keep it at this point, but I wasn’t up for a fight. I told The Peacemaker I would go through my things the next morning. I went up to my room and starting reading my book.
About 15 minutes later The Peacemaker came into my room and said he understood now. That we definitely needed to get rid of the desk. He said that Blue Eyes just told him that “the secretary” purchased the desk. The Peacemaker said he didn’t understand why his dad would want to keep that desk, it must be some kind of acting out situation, and therefore it should go. He said it must hold some sick memories. I was grateful he understood. Blue Eyes agreed, the desk should be gone.
Three days later, the desk still sits prominently in the bomb shelter. It’s a big, heavy solid wood desk and will need to be taken apart to be moved. Blue Eyes spent most of yesterday in his tea house, cleaning, rearranging, continuing to make it his special place. Not sure when he plans to take care of that desk, but one thing is for sure. I’m not touching it.