Owning a place in Vieques made winter—our least favorite season—much easier to face. The mere thought of our sun-drenched tropical home helped chase away our winter blues.
And yet it also made it harder. We now owned a house in the Caribbean–but we weren’t actually there. Instead, we were stuck in bleak, shivery Washington fifteen hundred miles north.
Still, it gave us time to get organized.
There was lots to do that first year. Michael, an inveterate list-maker, set to work. First, he made a master list of all the things that needed to be done to the house in the next couple of years:
-Replace all the windows and doors
-Gut and replace the kitchen
-Install a cistern on the roof
-Rip out the jerrybuilt linen closet in the bathroom
-Replace all the electrical outlets
-Install ceiling fans throughout
-Paint and furnish
-Rip out the kitchen and bathroom as well as the plywood closets in both bedrooms
-Reconfigure the existing rooms—in other words, tear down some walls and build new ones—to create an additional bedroom at the back, a dining area with French doors at the front, and a new kitchenette
-Install new ceramic tile floors
-Clean and paint the “guest” rooms to serve as lock-ups for our personal items
-Rip out the bathroom, paint the walls and floors, and install a washer and dryer to create a laundry room
-Install a staircase to connect the upper and middle floors
-Plaster and paint the unfinished side of the house
“When our ship comes in” list
-Terrace the side yard and install a pool
-Quit our jobs and retire
When Michael showed me the list I wailed, “What have we gotten ourselves into?”
Then I made myself a drink.
He gave me his best “please calm down” look. Then he asked me to make him a double.
Fortified by tequila, we sat down to create a separate list of stuff we’d need just to make the house habitable within the next few months (we doubted it would be ready for our upcoming trip in February, but maybe we could knock it into shape by late spring or early summer).
As far as renting out the house was concerned, we couldn’t even bring ourselves to think about the things our potential guests might need once we put the house on the market.
That list would take shape in its own good time.