Home Depot opens at 6 AM.
I never thought I’d be the type of person for whom that is relevant information.
But there I was yesterday morning, before sunrise, walking through the orange-trimmed automatic doors. Sawdust, turpentine, fertilizer…it wasn’t exactly like the scent of freshly ground coffee beans, but this mix of smells was somehow energizing nonetheless. It smelled…productive.
These people, the ones that shop at Home Depot at 6:30 AM: they are project people. Trucks loaded up with sheetrock and plywood. Siding and trimming and big buckets of paint. Small machines intended for mysterious tasks about which I couldn’t even attempt to guess.
Me? I was there to buy an extension cord to expedite the process of steam mopping all of the floors in our new home. It needed to be done before the movers showed up later that morning. I’d spent several hours cleaning there the previous day, and had finally had become disgusted with the inefficiency of having to unplug the vacuum cleaner or steam mopper every ninety seconds to move it to a new outlet.
We closed on Friday afternoon, a week early. The deal of the century, the seller’s agent had remarked as we all gathered around an attorney’s conference table, and I’m not even blowin’ smoke up your asses.
No, yes, we knew it was a great deal, we said. My fingers were sore from being tightly crossed behind my back for the last month, waiting for something to go wrong. There were a few near-misses, like the time we almost backed out because we thought it needed a new roof. (Thankfully, it doesn’t!) But it did seem too good to be true. This magnificent house had sat vacant on the market for almost a year, despite a colorful history of bidders and would-be buyers. Why us? Why now?
Something about our ridiculously lowball offer spoke to the seller, perhaps? I guess it will always be a mystery.
Mapping out the logistics of moving in to the house, I’d always assumed we would pay people to go in and clean beforehand. The house, in spite of its magnificence, was….well, it was pretty disgusting. A year of neglect will do that to even the handsomest of structures.
But when we moved up the closing date (and subsequent moving date), there was no longer time to hire cleaners. Oddly, though, I relished the idea of doing it myself. I hate cleaning, but there was something almost romantic about getting to know the house square foot by square foot, going over each and every dusty floorboard, learning every scuff and squeak of the place that’s now home.
So all weekend I swept and scrubbed and sucked up bugs: belly-up beetles turned crispy from months in a sunny windowsill, surprised little spiders crouching in corners. I cursed at unexpected cascades of dust coming off of high shelves; I scowled at stains and spots of paint that refused to succumb to my scouring.
But mostly I smiled. It still seems too good to be true. I love our house.
And to all of you Home Depot early-dwellers, you project people with your 2X4s and mysterious little machines?
Perhaps one day I’ll join your club, if you’ll have me.