It was a full year ago when this place on my kitchen ceiling began billowing downward, but in such a tiny way I thought I was dreaming it. Then one day a circle some 20 inches in diameter ceiling had visibly swelled down to occupy more and more of the air-space above the kitchen table.
“Hmmm,” I thought. I looked over at the wall, mentally measuring the distance between it and this strange growth of plaster. I went upstairs and stood in the spot I judged to be directly above it. Sure enough. I was standing by the shower just off our bedroom.
I walked over to the bed I share with my One and Only, still snoozing away at 8 in the morning. “The kitchen ceiling has a tumor,” I said to him.
“What?” he said, coming slowly awake.
“Well it LOOKS like a tumor, or maybe a breast. Kind of an androgynous breast, but still….”
He got up with a sigh and let me lead him into the bathroom. “I think the shower might be leaking,” I said.
“Nah” he said. “Somebody just left a cup of water on the lip of the bathtub once and it spilled and seeped through the floorboards.”
“I don’t know, one of the cats.”
“One of the cats? Our last cat died in 2010!”
“Somebody,” he repeated. ‘You,” I knew he was thinking, but it couldn’t have been MY fault. How could it be MY fault when the only things I ever leave on the lip of the tub are back issues of old New Yorker magazines that then fall into the water and become a kind of pulpy baklava.
“Let’s wait and see,” he went on, because that’s his answer to most things. I’m having the phrase chiseled onto my tombstone once I’ve finally choked to death on that last bite of healthy kale.
And so we waited.
And so we saw.
And the tumor grew as the ceiling lowered, then lowered more – until finally I was allowed to call the fix-it men who came and sawed a big square hole in the kitchen ceiling so that now you can look right up into the bathroom while you’re eating your meals.
With the ceiling laid open like that, the boss fix-it man made his diagnosis:
“It’s the pan,” he said somberly. “Your shower pan has failed.”
So the following Monday in came the pick-axes. Out went half a ton of tile and concrete so thoroughly busted apart that every picture on the walls went crooked from the pounding.
“Two more weeks and you’re set,” the boss fix-it man said. “In the meantime, take all the baths you want. Nothin’ wrong with your bathtub!”
cAnd so we’re doing our best to muddle through, me with my baths and my soggy magazines.
It’s true that there are pieces of the shower stall all over our bedroom. True too that just this morning a fresh fall of water began dropping like the gentle rain from Heaven once again on the kitchen table, only this time from the tub and not the shower.
But at least the tumor is gone – and as I eat my daily tangle of kale I look up and think to myself Hey but really: what’s nicer than a room with a view?