Fast forward from my last Subic post. We had finally gotten married! Yey!! We wed, we partied, we conquered. Now it’s back to the real world.
We stayed an extra night in Kamana after the wedding then checked out the following day. The nice people in the resort offered to extend another complimentary night, but we were both eager to roll up our sleeves and get our moving on, so to speak. In hindsight, I regretted that over-eager decision. Another extra night in a sea view luxury hotel with ROOM SERVICE wouldn’t have hurt. Not one bit.
It was a 30 minute drive to Kalayaan Heights, our new village. The minute I stepped into our new house, reality sunk in. I was living with a boy!!! I wanted to cry.
Take note that my husband lived in this house for two whole years before we got married. I was expecting to see some stuff but the place was completely empty!!! I could literally count the number of objects he had inside:
1. There was an old bed that was there even before he moved in (which, by the way I found disgusting. That bed had been there for years! Who knew what action and mystery excretions were left in that mattress. He even used the same sheets!!!!!!!)
2. An old refrigerator (He did not have anything in the inside. Not even a pitcher of water. Okay, change that. There was one bottle of Yakult. It was 2 months expired. He told me that the refrigerator did not keep stuff cool anymore, that’s why he didn’t like using it. More on that later).
3. A rickety dining room set
4. A couple of side tables
5. A dying stove
6. A center table (there were no couches or seats in the living room. Just a center table. Go figure.).
7. An old, 90’s style television set (WITH CABLE!! Yey! This made our maid so happy).
He bought some kitchen stuff when he moved in, so we had plates that were in mint condition and some usable utensils. There was also a a kitchen knife, a can and a bottle opener and a rice cooker. (Okay, this is what I don’t get. We bought that rice cooker prior to his moving. And he barely cooked. I had no idea how it had become worn out and why that kitchen knife was falling apart).
I knew the house was bare, but I didn’t really realise how neglected (for the lack of a better term) it was until I was about to move in. Don’t get me wrong. My husband is a pretty neat person, and the house itself wasn’t dirty. (Even though it’s probably only been cleaned four times in the two years he’s lived there.) But I guess that was the problem. He had left it practically untouched that entire time.
It was obvious that he literally just stayed there to sleep. It had that musty, vacation-house smell that was characteristic of empty living spaces. There were also a lot of stuff that he did not bother to know about the house. For instance he did not bother to check that most of the plugs did not work ( if they did, they were 110 volts) nor did he have any idea how certain built-in gadgets, such as the washing machine and the water heater, turned on. (Come to think of it, I don’t think he even knew whether they were working).
Surveying the grounds brought even more dismay. The yard was filled with overgrown grass and weeds. Knowing that we were in the middle of a forest, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we had a snake underneath that mess (Eep! We did have a snake! Our maid found one when we finally got around to having the grass cut. Thankfully it was dead. Probably got suffocated by all the dead leaves). And the bathroom and bedroom outside the house, which our new maid was supposed to use, was covered in dirt. (Truth be told, I was more concerned about our future maid’s welfare than I was about me. I didn’t want her to take one good look at the house, decide she can’t take our “minimalist” lifestlye and leave).
Needless to say, I knew it was going to be a rough first night for us newlyweds.
Prior to moving in, I had asked our driver to at least bring a spare queen-sized mattress I kept in my room, some sheets and my bedroom pillows. (There was no way I was going to sleep in that decade old mattress!!) But other than that, we had NOTHING. Minutes after dropping off our bags, we went out again. This time to buy stuff.
Buying stuff in itself was a quandary and production. Both of us had to figure out what we ABSOLUTELY had to have to make it through the next week or so. Thanks to our generous family and friends, we were given some money to spend on new furniture and appliances. But we had spent a huge chunk of both of our savings on the wedding so I personally didn’t want to spend more than was absolutely necessary (I may be a priss, but I’m a practical priss). Plus, we had also gotten some house stuff as gifts but not all of them have been delivered. It seemed like a huge waste to buy a lot of things only to realize that we were about to receive similar gifts later on.
After much deliberation we bought the following items:
- A new bed (An absolute must!! The cheapskate in me though, chose the cheapest, decent bed we could find. It cost us a whopping 9000 bucks! Mighty proud of that fact and would brag to anyone who would listen).
- A mattress (This was my idea of a splurge because we had my almost -new mattress at home. But my husband really wanted a brand new one, so fine. He slept in a gross mattress for 2 years anyway, so he deserved it).
- A small oven that could microwave, grill and convection (At that time, I didn’t know what convection meant. It sounded fancy though, so I was sold! :P)
- A refrigerator (Ok, this caused a lot of debate. I was insisting that his refrigerator at home would suffice in the meantime. He said it hardly kept anything cool—it was only when we had bought the new refrigerator and were installing it did we discover that it was plugged to a 110 volt socket. Facepalm).
- A water dispenser
- Cleaning materials like rags, disinfectants, deodorizers, soaps etc.
The following day, with the help of a couple of people that we hired, the house was finally clean. (And yes, mom and relatives, I did not sit there and command my troops like you’re probably picturing in your head. I did more than my fair share of cleaning and scrubbing).
On a sidenote, our helper came a few days later, and we were also able to procure new stuff for her so she doesn’t think that we’re heathens Thankfully, our new maid was a trooper and stuck with us. We also gave her the one and only tv that we had in the house. Having access to all her telenovelas probably contributed to her staying power.
Anyway, believe it or not, we lived in that almost-empty house, with just the stuff written above, for quite a while. It took us months to be able to buy/transport all the things that we needed.
And this prissy princess turned reluctant housewife learned a few lessons from this first quarter of our marriage:
- All these “essentials” that I thought I needed didn’t really matter. You could live quite comfortably with just a few basics in the house. Everything else is fluff.
- It is much more practical to buy stuff as you go along living together. There were quite a few things that we thought we would need that we ended up discarding, and quite a few things (mainly kitchen things, we’re both duds in the kitchen) that we thought were just luxuries that we ended up needing.
- Don’t force yourself to have pretty decorations /furniture immediately. If you buy these things from the start, not only will your budget get mucked up with nonsensical, rushed, mediocre finds, you will end up having too much stuff as time passes. I also realised that a house will look richer (and I mean richer in a non-monetary, interesting kind of way) if you buy these little things in unexpected places (such as flea markets when you’re traveling, hole in the wall places that you accidentally discover etc) instead of just getting them all in one generic department store.
- If you have the time and a trusty carpenter, it’s actually cheaper and more enjoyable to hire someone to make or refurbish your stuff. Most of the furniture we have now, were hand-me-downs from my old nailspa. We just had them reworked and repainted. The tables and some benches, we had made. It’s fun because you get to choose the dimensions, materials and the colors you want. Plus, given the materials used, it’s a fraction of the cost of even reasonably priced department stores.
- Living a near-bare house adds dimension to your relationship. This sounds cheesy I know, but we actually got closer because we didn’t have a lot of things to begin with. At its most basic, we lived with no television and no form of entertainment for quite a while. So we were forced to talk and talk and talk and talk. There’s also something about making lists of things that you needed, going around and checking at stores (at leisurely pace—not at a we’re -about- to -get married -we -have -nothing -pace) that makes you discover new things about each other. You get to relearn and discover each other’s priorities and tastes. Plus, we got to practice compromising. So in hindsight, I’m pretty glad we did things the way we did. It wasn’t exactly how I pictured our supposed honeymoon period to be like, but it was a great much-needed first lesson on the reality of marriage .