Old Girl Is Going


“People might think it looks dingy. It could be a deal-breaker for someone buying your house.”

I wanted to stuff thousand dollar bills in his pockets. Mike, our beloved remodeling contractor, the one who turned our kitchen from an 18th century scullery to a culinary palace, said what I only dreamt could have been said. I’d waited 32 years for this moment.

Our 100-year old terrazzo shower wasn’t very nice.

This came as no surprise to me. Being in our shower feels like you are in a gargantuan cinder block, like you are a small, sweaty mouse that has scurried into a cinder block to stand gratefully under water dripping from a broken downspout.

Mike went on to talk about what the rehab of our bathroom would entail. They’d have to break up the terrazzo shower and floor and send it sailing out the window to a dumpster below. When he said this, I tried to hide my glee, not wanting to break my cover as a completely impartial homeowner only looking to do what was best for our investment, you know, long-term, resale value and all that.

Instead, I was thinking, man, if I never have to stand naked with the shower running, scrubbing the terrazzo walls with a bristle brush sprinkled with Comet again, I’d die a genuinely happy person. It was my secret little hobby, my shower scrubbing, with no little friends ever joining in, if you get my drift.

“Let’s stop and think,” my husband said. “We’re talking about a hundred year old shower here.”

“Not everything that’s old is worth saving,” I said within an instant. It was a reflex like I’d rehearsed the line for years.

Not everything that’s old is beautiful. Or functional. Or worth keeping or worshipping or letting off the hook for its incredible inconvenience or its profound ugliness. I know it becomes a fine line. If everything old isn’t worth saving, which of the old things are and aren’t? I kept this budding philosophical debate to myself.

My husband shrugged a ‘once it’s gone, it’s gone’ shrug.

Then Mike noticed that the bathroom door jamb was uneven and that the beautiful, old wooden door had been shaved off at the top decades ago to accommodate the unevenness. “The weight of the shower is pulling on the wall.”

It felt like Christmas.


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