Broken Windows

Broken windows theory
Broken windows theory (Photo credit: Roel Wijnants)

I need to fix my broken windows.

Not literal windows, luckily, since it’s been snowing for the past two days in Atlanta, but metaphorical windows. The types of fractured panes that, if you subscribe to the broken window theory, will lead to greater calamity if left unrepaired. Unlike the criminological perspective of the original theory, I am not concerned about increased vandalism or an uptick of violent crime in my actual or figurative home, but I am concerned about a cascade effect if I don’t make the minor repairs now.

Brock and I currently reside in a rental home. We selected the home because we love the location and the space and price suits our needs. However, the state of the house is a bit…rough. It’s been a rental for many years with no major updates or repairs. The floors are poorly laid. The nails and screws form connect-the-dots pictures on the walls. None of the interior doors lock and none of the fixtures match and none of them work particularly well, either. Apart from painting a few rooms upon moving in 16 months ago, we have not put much effort into the home, not wanting to waste time or money on a temporary stay. Even with those restrictions, we still settled in to some degree, hung pictures on the walls and curtains on the windows.

We plan to buy a house next winterish (for those of you unfamiliar with the season, it begins in October and continues until the last of the sweaters are put away). I’m ready. I’ve lived in temporary housing for the past 4 years after owning a home for the previous 10. I’m tired of feeling unmoored. I want to put down roots and put down new floors.

In my old life, my physical space was very important to me. My stress levels and ability to relax were directly tied in to my surroundings. My ex was helpful with this. He graciously helped me redo my office between work commitments when I was desperate for a change of scenery after completing my master’s degree. In my new life, I have had to learn to be content despite my surroundings. I’ve lived in a spare bedroom in a home with a young kid and lots of clutter. I moved into Brock’s space for a time and had to carve out my niche in a bachelor’s domain. And now, I am in this rental, with all its marks of tenants past.

It’s been 16 months. A picture has fallen off my office wall. It now sits in a corner awaiting a new nail that I have yet to hammer in. My cork wall tiles have been leaping off like lemmings and, now that I’ve tired of trying to convince them not to jump, rest stacked in a pile on my printer. I have a jacket that lives on the floor of the guest room closet because I never transferred any hangers to that room.

These are details. Unimportant in many ways. But they are also broken windows.

This is my home. It’s not permanent (is anything?) but it is home for now. If I ignore these minor fixes, I am allowing myself to not be present in my current environment. I am making do and making plans, rather than being in my surroundings. If I allow myself to agree that these details don’t matter, what will not matter next?

I’m not going to go Martha Stewart on my house (after all, I do see perfection in my chipped plates!), but I am going to take a few moments over spring break to restore the wall hangings and transfer a few hangers. Although I am looking forward to purchasing a home, I am not going to let myself live in the home of next winterish while I am still in the present season. So I will fix those broken windows and appreciate their view. Even through the torn screens:)

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