Last Sunday started out calm; a quick stretch, gallon of coffee, some mindful meditation. How I imagine Gwyneth Paltrow begins her days, only with less vagina scented candles.
We didn’t have much food at home, having eaten our way through the fridge and most of the pantry again. The weekends are the only two days our meal delivery service doesn't come, which means we're usually completely out of food by Saturday morning. I decided I would run to the grocery store while David worked out because I'm a good boyfriend and also I wanted to see if they had any pots for all the plants I hadn't bought yet, which is much easier to do without him standing behind me asking, "Wait, where is that one going to go?"
After a leisurely stroll around the store and filling my cart with the same nine staples we always buy, I found my way to the garden section where I decided I should plant tomatoes. And basil! And also parsley, even though I can't remember the last time I actually ate parsley on purpose. Grabbing some seed packets, a box of those small, degradable cartons meant to house seedlings before being planted in the ground and yet another bag of soil, I made my way to the checkout, dreaming of my summer harvest and reminding myself to Google what exactly it is people do with parsley.
Arriving back home, I walked in to find a stream of water shooting out of the laundry room and into the kitchen, forming a small but growing lake rapidly heading towards the living room furniture.
Screaming for David, I dropped the bags and ran into the laundry room, discovering one of the two nozzles meant to hook up a washer machine had burst completely off and a torrent of water was now gushing out, soaking me and everything in the room. Instead of using the space to do laundry, we had installed shelves and filled them with our comically oversized bounty from Costco; 112 rolls of toilet paper here, a 5 pound bag of oatmeal there, and a stack of 75 paper towels in the corner.
Everything wet and getting wetter.
David came flying down the stairs as I headed outside to see if one of the valves at the end of our driveway had anything to do with water, and when I came back he was trying to block the stream with his hand, which was about as successful as trying to stop an open fire hydrant; instead of preventing the water from exiting, it only redirected it towards the ceiling, showering the entire room with lukewarm water.
"THE VACUUM," I shouted, because it turns out if the house was burning down or flooding, my priorities are clear. I irrationally dove for the plastic base and carried it out into the front hallway, cradling it like it was the Mona Lisa.
Despite my earlier stretching and meditating and Gwyneth channeling, I am not great in a crisis.
"OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO BAD," I shouted at David repeatedly, who was still trying to plug up Old Faithful with his fingers while I tried to salvage as many paper products as possible. After quickly clearing what I could, I video-called our landlord on WhatsApp, who was enjoying what looked like a lovely afternoon by the pool.
"ALBERTO LOOK," I screamed into the phone, turning it so he could survey the damage. "WHAT DO WE DO?!"
"Travis, you have to turn the camera on," he said from his deck chair. "I can't see anything."
After telling me not to worry roughly ten times, he told us to shut off the house's power, which should stop the water. Eventually.
"Do not worry," he texted later. "The plumber is on his way. He'll be there in an hour or two."
At first we had a relatively good system; using some of the giant empty bottles which get delivered every week filled with fresh drinking water, I’d catch the torrent spilling out of the open pipe, topping off the roughly five gallon jug in under a minute. While I was busy doing that, David would dump out the previous bottle as quickly as possible and hand it back to me just in time to switch it out again, which meant the room only got sprayed for the ten seconds it took me to wrestle the new empty bottle around the stream.
This lasted until we realized David needed to log into work soon, and without the electricity turned on we didn't have internet, which meant he had to take his computer to the hotel down the street. This left me attempting to fill up and empty the giant bottles by myself until the plumber came or I drowned, whichever came first.
About thirty minutes after David left, I heard a small voice from outside.
It sounded like one of the neighborhood kids we've seen living their best lives riding bikes and playing in the courtyard of our private, gated little village. A couple of nights before, a group of girls had banged on our door asking if their friend could come out to play. After a couple of confused minutes, I realized they must mean the girl next door, and we all laughed and apologized before they proceeded to bang on our neighbors door. I figured this must be the same mistake, and abandoned my post briefly to let whoever it was know.
"She's next door," I told the girl standing in our doorway, which David had left open so the plumber could come in as soon as he arrived.
"I live next door," she said, seemingly completely unaware I was soaking wet and barefoot because she was too busy looking past me, scanning our back patio. "Have you seen my ball?"
"What? No. Sorry. Pipe broken. Lots of water and - "
"It's blue and my mom and I were playing and it went over the wall." Clearly this was equally as important as our plumbing emergency.
"Oh ok, I will look," I said, still unsure if she had registered I needed to canoe across our living room to retrieve her ball. I checked around the back patio, which didn't take long because it's not very big or crowded with plants. Yet. "It's not here, I'm sorry."
"But we were playing and it went over the wall?" she said skeptically, as if I was just waiting for her to go away so I could finally have a game of catch by myself while our house floated away. "It's blue."
"I'm so sorry - no ball?" I said, walking back into the living room and checking on the new bucket I had placed under the slowing waterfall. "Do you want to look?"
She eyed the patio standing next to the pond in the living room, still seemingly oblivious to the natural disaster unfolding around her and not completely convinced I wasn't hiding the ball somewhere.
"Ok," she said slowly before turning and leaving. Just before she reached the door, she stopped to remind me one more time in case I had a change of heart and wanted to return her stolen toy, "it's blue."
After she wandered out, I returned to the laundry room and continued to empty buckets until the leak mercifully slowed to a dribble. Now I could focus my energy on getting up all the water with a mop I didn't know we had.
The plumber arrived about thirty minutes after the water finally stopped altogether, roughly two hours after the problem started. I had made significant progress soaking up about half the pool and thanks to a pump located underneath our kitchen which apparently tilted the floor slightly, most of the water had been diverted away from the living room furniture. The floor itself is made entirely from large tile slabs which extend about six inches up each wall, perfectly suited to come through a flood unscathed.
The toilet paper, not so much.
Like most service people our landlord sends to the house, the plumber brought his teenage son with him, presumably to help translate, even though very little Spanish was needed to diagnose the situation. After explaining how the problem was we hadn't used the faucets (oh. ok. what?), he got to work installing a new one while his son gladly accepted a sparkling water and began telling me about his favorite music.
Did I know Ariana Grande? One Direction? Sam Smith?
Yes, yes I did. And while I continued mopping and his dad continued working, his son stood in our kitchen reviewing BTS' catalogue of hits while explaining to me how important sad songs are.
"I love to feel sad," he said through his mask while I wrung out the mop, “and dance. Your house is very nice,” he concluded, because these things were related.
After his dad finished installing the new faucet, he instructed me to open it every so often to prevent another explosion from our in-house geyser. I paid, thanked him profusely for coming on a Sunday and gave them both another sparkling water for the road.
Finally shutting the door for the first time since coming back from the grocery store hours earlier, I surveyed our very nice and slightly damp house, which had held up much better than I did during a crisis.
Then I put on some sad music and danced while mopping up the rest of the shrinking lagoon.