An incomprehensible amount changed in the year and a day since everything went to Hell. I fell in love. I became a Detroiter. I own a toolbox now, am a mean hand with a drill, and can coat a wall in drywall mud like a pro. I’ve painted walls 35 different colors, met dozens of new people, and vaulted over fences to answer cries for help. I have a contractor, an electrician, a boiler specialist, an attorney, a mason, and a hundred volunteers. We bought a stake in the city and brought a house back to life. Everything is different, and so, so good.
Yesterday, on the anniversary of closing on this house, I signed another check. This one was to the insurance company. For the first time, the Sullivan House is fully insured. We previously only were able to get fire protection for the purchase price; now it’s a full policy for its vastly-increased market value. It’s still not enough to replace it, and it’s an outrageously expensive policy (the house still isn’t up to code for a better rate), but it feels like a big accomplishment. Like everything else, we made progress. We’re not where we need to be, but we’re miles from where we were.
Yesterday was also the day Aaron brought over the last box from his apartment and turned in his keys. We met for the first time over drinks at the Woodbridge Pub a year ago this month. Tonight, when he finishes his late Friday night shift at a Midtown bar, he’ll be headed to the Sullivan House for the first time. Home to me. Simple, pure happiness.
We still give at least one house tour a week. Sometimes our guest was here a couple months ago, or over the summer, or last spring, or has never been here. I begin my narrative anew and try to remember what’s changed from their perspective. “There was bubbling mold on the chimney, the ceiling was hanging there, cracks everywhere, but have you seen these amazing pocket doors? They’re original!” I’m repeating my story, but I don’t remember where the cracks were. It’s a distant memory, blurred by the time and effort. I look at year-old photos and wonder how we did it, but I know: One step at a time. The next thing. One more hour. One more day with friends, building a future where the past is a lot of great memories, and no one remembers or cares where the cracks used to be.