“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere.”
— Albert Einstein
I have two basic forms of entertainment: home renovation and murder podcasts. This makes perfect sense to me. Renovation projects can certainly make a person stabby. It’s the perfect blend of DIY meets DNA. I have some very good ideas, and I have some very bad ideas. Sometimes a nice mix of both.
In our DIY days, we have done some imaginative things, from moving an entire two-car garage to accommodate my patio table, to bringing cast iron radiators into the house through third-floor windows. In the end, most of these ideas were more good than bad, and nobody died. Perhaps that is where the murder and renovation correlation began for me?
My obsession with true crime programming has gotten me through some truly sticky situations. Literally. Like scraping old glue off of wood in what seemed like an endless acre of flooring.
I like to listen to podcasts while cleaning and renovating. There is something satisfying about scrubbing away grime or pounding nails to the tune of a killer getting caught via 20-year-old DNA. I do love the solving of a good cold case.
There is an order to things when crimes are solved. It adds control to chaos. I feel like that is probably why I also love renovation. There is an allure in transforming chaos and bringing back the beauty in homemaking, too.
I recently unearthed an old VHS video of our first walk-through of this old house, in 1996. We were thinking of purchasing it. I watch now in shock and awe. What were we thinking?
We were delightfully naive as we contemplated the massive project. I was pregnant with our first child, although we didn’t know it yet. We thought we had five years to get the house livable. We had roughly five months.
It’s funny, in hindsight, watching us discuss our hopes and dreams as we scramble over fallen trusses in the barn, overgrown vistas on the acreage and startlingly bad design in the house. It’s just a whole lot of blue shag carpet and “needs TLC.”
There is a burnt-out second home in a pile in the backyard and urban-style graffiti scrawled across the barn doors. I also spied an old clawfoot tub sitting in the yard. Two decades later, I would put an almost identical tub back. I feel like the house sighed in relief.
In our defense (the house and my), there is a distinct moment captured on video when Mr. Wonderful viewed the then-new Jacuzzi style tub(which would later become the bane of our existence). At that moment, seeing it in all the plastic glory the ’90s had to offer, he said “that’s a really nice tub.”
You heard it here folks. I have proof. He was the one who thought that bathroom had potential. It did, but only when we went back to its early 1900s roots. That plastic bathtub was a piece of junk, as was the one that followed. I think, on some level, the house rejected them. It knew.
When you live in a century-old home, you kind of accept that someone might have died there. I mean, I accept that. Maybe you would not. I actually have a newspaper clipping that tells me someone died here, peacefully and surrounded by loved ones, in the 1950s. No true crime story here.
There was a crime as well. It was a local tragedy involving someone who lived here, but did not die here. I will never use it for essay fodder. I pray fervently that the crime is solved.
That also fuels my obsession with crime stories. I only like solved mysteries. I want evil to get its due.
Perhaps the blend of logic and imagination that solves true crimes and crimes like 1970s tile are more alike than we realize. As I scrape and paint and endlessly put our stamp on the old bones of this old house, I hum along, listening to tales of old bones, too.
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