Away From It All

Before he bought the vacation home he learned the square footage, the lot size, the age of the structure, the age of the roof, a little about the previous owners, the type of flooring and insulation, the miles to town, and some of the intimacies of its plumbing and wiring. And the price. That’s about it. It would be an adventure.

Now the vacation cabin was not perfect he warned them: that is, it was perfect. Perfectly imperfect, not without fault.

Of course his family liked the sound of getting away from it all. The first weekend they could, they drove up there to see it. He brought: caulking, mouse traps, the air compressor, new lawn chairs, 100 styrofoam plates, 100 red dixie cups, 100 packs of forks knives and spoons, wasp killer, ant poisons, the lawn mower, a gallon of bleach, an eight pack of paper towels. The generator and five gallons of gas. And a couple more boxes full of other things.

Later that summer he redid the porch. Then he burned down the shed, so that he could build a new shed with a work bench and shelving and a wall covered with implements on hooks that hung in front of their own outlines, and electricity for a space heater. He brushed out the yard, for fuel prevention and to combat the rodent population. He also took down the two biggest oak trees (embedded rot, he diagnosed).

He had the bathroom customized. He bought reproductions of fly-fishing artwork. He enlisted the help of his wife, whose clunky Adirondack chair was always in the way. He enlisted the help of their eight year old son, who was not worked without a little compensation: rather, he was taught the true value of a dollar. By the time the family’s custom sign was hung on the front door, WELCOME! THE FLEISHMAN’S, its borders sanded to give a rustic air, he was done. The vacation home looked as good as new.

Then they sold the place. Flipped it for a profit, and began looking for another.

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