The sprinklers are working again.
There are several rites of passage for those aspiring to adulthood. Home ownership is one. Mortgages, car loans, kids, taxes- all signs you're not a kid anymore.
Big home repairs, well, now we're talking adulthood. When you're a kid, daddy and mommy take care of everything. Something breaks- YOU break something- and it's magically repaired. Daddy may curse a little, but it's fixed and you never find out how it exactly how it's done. A little older, college, something happens, someone from the custodial staff shows up to patch it up, you're all good. Apartments, you call the super; rental houses, you call the landlord.
And then there's a deed in your name. You break it, you bought it.
Our house was built about 50 years ago, updated a little but still, essentially, what was here when the peninsula was still essentially scrub on rock with the occasional landslide to liven things up. The road had only recently been punched through; Marineland a few blocks away was new, but it wasn't yet suburbia, just a distant fringe area awaiting better roads and the 405 and 110 freeways to connect it to Los Angeles and civilization. The neighborhood was surrounded by rock and dirt and ocean. Now, it's surrounded by houses and palms and roads and, er, rock and dirt and ocean. But the house itself is, with a few alterations, what it was in the early 50s.
All of that is to say: old houses break. Sewer lines break, patios break, the slab under the garage breaks. You replace the roof, the driveway, the pool motor, and each time you swallow hard, you pull out your checkbook, your nuts retract and you curse like Daddy.
You ARE Daddy now.
My biggest adult home repair moment to date was the sewer main line problem, when the contents of our pipes began to back up into the alley behind my office and we discovered that roots had dislocated the line. Daddy, the sewers backed up, can you fix it? Er, no, but a plumber can, and he'll make you pay for it. Damage: thousands of dollars and a dug-up front lawn, plus the measure of emasculation that accompanies the inability to fix something, that helplessness most commonly felt at the car repair shop.
I'm fairly handy around the house, as it turns out. And, as the sprinkler guy said, I had the right idea when I replaced the solenoid and the controller. (Pause for you to be impressed that I even know what a solenoid is, let alone be able to replace it AND install a new controller, whatever that is) But the problem was something I could not diagnose or fix myself, and that's when I feel helpless, and I feel the judgmental eye of the repairman, who is undoubtedly thinking "hah! You bourgeois nancy boy with your fancy car and your uncalloused hands! You who has never worked an honest day in your life! You think you are so much better than I, yet you are unable to make this simple repair, while I, the laborer upon which you look down, will bail you out and charge you an exhorbitant fee to do so!"
Or something to that effect.
Actually, this time, the repair guy wasn't too judgmental, at least not outwardly so, and the damage to our finances stayed firmly in the low three figures, so we escaped for now. But there will be a next time. I will feel the wrath of the electrician, the plumber, the heating guy. And each time will be one more reminder that Dad won't bail me out, the janitor won't fix the problem, the landlord isn't available. I am the Dad, the janitor, the landlord.