I’m not very good at “settling in.” I don’t know if it’s the whole Beat Generation, On The Road part of my personality, or the result of my “I’m a 20-something and I haven’t got it figured out” -ness or what, but I have a tendency to sort of “perch” in places and not really make them my own. Like, it fascinates me that hotels have closets and dressers, because why would you move stuff out of your suitcase?
Even at my current job, where I have been working for almost seven months now, you would barely know which desk is mine. It took me months to put a picture of my dogs on my bulletin board. I still haven’t put a single thing into any of my desk drawers. Hell, I don’t even use the pen holder that was left behind for me.
And my name is on the door.
When I moved to Glasgow – beyond my obvious inability to “move in” to a place – I did so knowing it would be temporary. I knew going in that I’d be living in Scotland for two years, max. I definitely hoped to stay longer, but I didn’t count on it working out that way.
So I never really moved in.
Okay, I definitely put my clothes into my wardrobe, but I guess what I mean to say is that while I knew that my flat was “mine,” I never really felt like it was mine. I spent every day feeling a bit like I was in someone else’s home and I shouldn’t disturb anything too much. I wouldn’t even hang pictures on my walls.
So imagine my horror when I destroyed the bathtub.
Fine, I put it that way for dramatic effect. But here’s what happened: I’m typically a very tidy hair dyer. I’ve been dying my own hair since my teens. For those of you keeping track, that gives me over a decade of experience. I know what I’m doing; I don’t make a mess.
Not until I’m dying my hair in an immaculate, newly renovated bathroom in a flat that I’m renting that I feel no ownership over, that is.
I finished applying the dark brown dye to my hair and turned to leave the bathroom. That’s when I noticed that I had somehow completely defied the laws of physics and gotten a splash – not a drop, but a whole splash – of hair dye on the wood panel on the outside of my bathtub.
“Bleach!” was the first thought in my mind. But I was too late. The damage (see: huge stain) was done. Soaked in. Permanent.
I panicked while I waited for my dye to do its thing. I panicked while I rinsed and conditioned. I panicked while I rinsed again. I tried to tell myself I was overreacting until I poked my head into the bathroom again and saw the beautiful cream tile, the beautiful cream sink and toilet, sparkling new. And the beautiful cream bathtub…with a massive stain on the outside of it.
I’m pretty sure I cried then.
Suddenly, I remembered seeing paint cans somewhere in my flat. Where were they? I scoured under the kitchen sink to no avail, then realized that they had to be in my front closet.
I could make this dirty mistake disappear. No one would ever know. I wouldn’t lose any of my damage deposit! Win-win.
About two hours and three coats of paint later, I had solved my problem. I vowed to never let such a stupid mistake happen again. After all, this wasn’t “my” flat.
SPOILER ALERT: Oh, it happened again. And again. And again.
By some bizarre curse of nature and gravity (I just had a flashback to a couple of months ago at work when I asked one of my scientist coworkers a question and he exclaimed, “You don’t understand gravity!”), I managed to stain and re-stain the outside of my bathtub at least four more times. I wish I could explain it, but I can’t. I have no idea how it kept happening even though I was so damn careful.
Maybe it was the universe’s way of forcing me to accept some level of home ownership, even though I was just renting. Regardless, I had to repaint that fucking bathtub four or five more times, which meant 12-15 coats of paint. I’m not proud of it, but I did what I had to do.
Lesson learned: Always have an extra can of paint.
(Also, maybe seek some therapy for the whole “I can’t make myself at home here” thing. Because it’s weird, right?*)
*I feel like my mom’s gonna read that and go, “No, it’s not weird – I do the exact same thing!” like it’s not weird just because she does it too, when really that just means it’s weird and I got it from her, like my severe anxiety and my need to be early to everything. Hi, Mom.