My plan was to take my kids to The Museum of the City of New York using the free pass I got at the library. It was the last installment of Family Camp. Instead, the doorman woke me up with a phone call asking if there was a leak in my apartment; there was a leak in the gym and they were searching for the source. I was disoriented, roused from a dream I don’t remember and told him I would call him back after I check.
My husband went to the living room to check and reported back, “Yes, there was some water.” When I went to gauge his assessment of “some water,” I was overwhelmed. I imagined a fine trickle, like a crying wall. Instead, it was a two-foot bubble going the entire height of the wall; it damaged the entire wall behind our TV and bookshelves.
This wasn’t the worst part.
I looked down at the floor. MY Canadian Maple, four-inch hardwood plank floors we installed when we moved in less than five years ago. I love this floor as it accommodates my weight. It is soft underfoot and silky smooth. I wipe down every one of these planks when I have a panic attack and they soothe me. These floors are my happy place. I know every scratch and they are few and far between.
I looked down to see dark marks surrounding many planks closest to the wall. I gasped. I saw many starting to buckle around the edges, but I was in denial. I imagined paper towels and a blow dryer. I stepped on some of the more damaged planks and little water fountains erupted at the seams of the boards. I would push down, as if I was checking a cut to see if it was bleeding, and water would ooze out. I didn’t have enough Costco size paper towels for this mess.
My husband was shaking his head and that’s when the workmen arrived. The super and his crew assessed the damage. They told us the culprit was a refrigerator water line which exploded two stories above us.
“This floors this whole floor is going to have to come up,” the water cleanup and restoration guy tells us. He checked the moisture levels by using a stud finder type tool, pressing it onto our floors and walls, shaking his head, moving further and further from where I thought it was even wet.
“Mold is a bitch,” the ex-Marine explained.
I thought we could replace just a few planks, but with a seamless floor, it’s all connected, you damage one plank, the lot is contaminated. Incidentally, the model of my ideal blonde wooden floor is now discontinued.
“This kitchen cabinet is shot,” the other water clean up guy says. “The whole wall will have to come down.”
“Are you saying I’m going to have to replace all of my kitchen cabinets from a little leak in the wall?” I was in shock. The weather was tempting me outside and yet my husband is pulling out flour and sugar and cornstarch from the kitchen cabinets soaking wet and tossing them into the trash.
“I think so, yeah,” and he continues to check for water.
Eventually, we call the insurance company, we get a claim number, they set up ten industrialized size dehumidifiers to try to dry out the walls and floor. Tomorrow the adjuster comes, the formal assessment continues and we await the insurance’s decision on what we’re entitled to repair.
My kids spent the day watching TV, playing video games, reading, and watching my husband and I move books and records into boxes and into our bedroom, the dry zone. They raise the volume on the video games as the fans turn my living room into an airplane hangar. I feel bad the day went to shit and apologize to them.
My teenager waves me away. “What can you have done. It’s not your fault!”
My six-year-old looks up, mid game, and says, “It’s life mom, what can you do?”
I’m plagued by the thoughts of what I could have done to prevent this? Nothing. I wonder why this couldn’t have happened to the bathroom we still haven’t renovated, but life doesn’t happen that way. Life Clubs choose us as often as we choose them. For example, I would’ve much rather join the “I’m Renovating My Kitchen Club” rather than the “Our Apartment Had a Little Leak So We Had to Redo Our Entire Floors and Kitchen Club.” Woody Allen said, “I’d never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member.” Some days he’s right.