The smell of sawdust has replaced the stale cigarette smell, at least in the four rooms where the floor guys have been sanding things down. Working like mad to remove the paint that was splattered and slopped across the lovely, old fir floors when the people who lived here before didn't bother to cover anything while painting the rooms. Working like mad to reduce the outrageous amounts of staining that resulted from those people letting their cats and dogs pee all over the carpet and never bothering to clean it up. Untended animal urine that the floor guys and the carpet-removal guy before them have declared to be the worst case they've ever seen.
I'm mad at those people. For hurting this house. The paint splatters all over the lovely wood molding, the spray of old soy or teriyaki sauce (that's what the cleaning woman said it was) up one living room wall and across the ceiling. The garbage we found half buried in the dirt behind the garage. I know I don't have any right to be mad at them; it was their house and they could do whatever they wanted in it. But now this house is mine, and I feel like you do when you find out someone kicked your little sister.
All the half-assed do-it-yourself repair jobs they did on the plumbing. Paint smeared across window glass. The door they took out and walled up but never bothered to refinish. All the filth they were living in. All the neglect. How neglect can feel like disrespect.
Stephen crouches with a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide, squirting the spots along the floor where the long-ignored animal urine stained the wood the worst. There's only one spray bottle and it's not my turn, so I'm walking around, taking some pictures and looking at the difference this treatment has made already.
I stoop and touch the floor. Touching is something I've been avoiding in this house, at least when I'm not working to scrape paint spatters off the wood columns or help unscrew ugly bathroom fixtures from the walls. It's like there's a layer of those people lingering like old smoke residue all along every surface. But now, we've yanked out the old green carpet and the floor guys have sanded the top layer off the wood underneath, exposing a surface those people never touched. I run my hand along the soft, powdery surface. Something new. Something clean.