The traveling door


Before we began collecting sheep and cats and horses. Before we sunk our savings into our money-pit farm…

…we owned another money pit.

Our first property was a stately, turn-of-the-century stucco farm house that loomed over the cookie-cutter ramblers in the neighborhood.

It had 5 bedrooms and sprawling living space — far more house than we needed. But I fell in love with the pine floors, the stained glass windows, the grand hallway. Yet we couldn’t ignore the pee-stained carpets, the cracks in the plaster, the water stains and daylight peeping through the roof.

Friends found our new home frightening. “I’m just worried the ceiling might fall on us,” one person said, clutching her child and backing out the door.

Our house was the original Money Pit. We hit up my parents for money and for 4 months, invested major sweat equity. Martin and I scraped plaster, hung dry wall and prepped the floors. We hired plumbers, roofers, electricians and painters.

When the dust cleared and we reached a level of reasonable repair, I launched smaller cosmetic projects. Easy ones, like finding a screen door.

But not just any screen door. An age-appropriate door for a 1900s house. Martin thought I was crazy but he accompanied me to a store that sold salvaged house parts — translation, ” junk.”

Junk available at obscene prices.

There, I found the door. It was really just a rickety, paint-shedding wooden frame. A screen door with no screen, no hardware. It cost $80.

It took most of the summer to restore it. The mindless scraping and sanding was torture. Eventually, we primed and painted it, and fitted it with new screens. Finally, Martin carefully tacked the trim back down. By then summer was over. It was storm-window season.

Not long after, we swapped our urban money pit for a rural one. At closing an attorney breezed through the conveyances before Martin chimed in.

“The screen door doesn’t convey. We’re taking it with us.”

Around the table everyone looked confused, except me. The new owners wouldn’t appreciate that Martin slaved over the hallway ceiling one weekend or that I spent hours on my hands and knees prying up carpet staples. They certainly wouldn’t the appreciate the screen door.

At the new-old house the door never fit right, but it’s been serviceable. Lately however, it bears the battle scars of curious cats and pushy kids. At night bugs navigate the holes and tears.

But there’s no chance I’ll ever repair it. I know how much work is involved. And I’m not ready to part with it either. If we ever move again, it’s coming with us.