Thursday, February 17, 2011

Operation Humpty Dumpty

I recently bought a house. The monumental milestone I achieved in this venture is that it is the first house that I bought all by myself, especially as a widow. It felt so grown up. I have always wanted to renovate a house, it has been a dream of mine for a long time. I like the concept of restoration. The taking of something that was once new, now in need of care and make it something better than it was before. My house is that opportunity that I have been waiting for. It needed skill, time and money. I knew what I was getting myself into. I looked it over a couple of times before I made my final purchase. I had contractors in to look at what it needed so not only did I have a clear picture of what it would take to make it my own but I had a monetary figure that I would need to part with and I was okay with that as well.

I have never undertaken such a project in my life but I was excited. I poured over in my mind what it would look like when it was finished. Think of Extreme Makeover, the Brittany Hudson addition. Everything would be gleaming with new paint cleanliness. Everything perfectly organized. The flow of the house would move from one beautiful room to the next. Perfectly mine and splendidly decorated to my satisfaction. Back to reality, I had a laundry list of things to get at my local Home Renovation store and that seemed to grow by the milli-second. I agonized what colors to get for the walls for weeks and finally made my decision. I have since visited the paint department so much that "Jim, the Paint Guy" as I refer to him, smiles when he sees me approaching his counter. It turns out, you need a lot more paint than you think you do. My home improvement tip for you is to buy two times more paint than you think you need. You'll need it, trust me. "Murph", the nickname for the cashier I see almost daily asked me yesterday if I was a contractor. I giggled. I would have thought so too with all the things she has taken out of my shopping cart lately. I don't get geared up for trips to the home store like I used to. Now, it is like going to the grocery store. Get a list together and wonder the aisles.

Last week was the height of the demolition part of my house renovation project. The simple bathroom retiling turned into a full gutting with the exception of the antique cast iron tub. I wouldn't part with it. It is a nice white, deep, wide tub albeit shaped like an old coffin. It doesn't have a scratch on it. It stayed. I wanted the floor redone. I had picked out tiles and the contractor "Mike" and I discussed the design I wanted on the floor. He then told me that I would need to remove the vanity and the toilet in order to do that. Next came the tub enclosure. It had old tiles and some spots were recently retiled as the former ones had obviously fallen out and the original owners were not able to properly match the tile shade. Mike said it would be ripped out and new drywall would be installed, sounds simple enough. That's when the fun happened. On removing the tiles, mold had grown on the drywall not only underneath but on the drywall opposite the studs, which meant my closet in the master bedroom would also need to be taken down and redone. Well, that is life sometimes isn't it? I obviously agreed with Mike when he showed me what he had discovered. Next were the two half walls I that seemed to obstruct the flow between the kitchen, adjacent dining room and the hallway that ends, dissecting the space between the two rooms. It seem to create some confusion when you entered either the dining room or the kitchen. It looked clumsy. I wanted it cleaned up so that one room blended into the next, so the hallway would spill out into one large room. Of course, when two little walls came down it was one huge mess. Drywall, plaster, pieces of hardwood floor, and ceiling littered half of the house. It looked like a war zone as soon as you entered through side door. The kitchen is now completely unusable due to the dust and clutter of tools and supplies. The dining room houses more tools, my refrigerator and stove. I expected this, I just never envisioned a disaster of such magnitude.

I have also been stripping wallpaper off of every wall as the contractors worked on the other half of the house. There were shreds of paper from one end to the other. Walls have needed a lot of sanding and patch. With all the mess of paper stripping, hard work and construction work I started to feel a little weary. Okay, I was starting to feel fairly overwhelmed. My mind started circling the scenario of this never ending. I stopped being able to see the finished project in my mind. I just saw my simple little 3 bedroom cape as a horror show of holes and demolition. I was losing heart. One night I was working late on painting and the electrician who I hired to do some rewiring was there. He is an older man who is always chipper and chatty, smiling and laughing. I like talking to him for that reason. Negativity seems to bounce right off of him. He has run into his fair share of disasters with the house as well. We started discussing one do-it-yourself electrical debacle. As we wound down the conversation, he said something that I can't get out of my head. "Even with everything, she still has good bones", he nodded with a trailing smile. It almost echoed in my ears. "good bones". The home's foundation is solid. He went on. "The core wiring is tight and good, the best they could have installed", he went on. The walls are rock slathe, that was the very best there was at the time". This made me feel better. "Yup, she's got good bones", he finished as he headed back toward the bathroom to wrap up his wiring for the night.

I've been thinking about my conversation with the electrician for days. I see a lot of similarities with my home and my life. My life was basically pretty good. There was a solid foundation, God, in my life. I had a good job, a great career, a loving husband, a sweet baby and good friends. For whatever reason, God needed to remodel me. He took my husband home with him, I left my job, I sold my house, and I moved away from my friends to Key West. With the exception of my daughter, Carli, everything has been stripped down to the framing. I don't recognize my life or me any more. I caught myself commenting to someone about how "OCD clean and organized" I was. The truth is, I am not that way any more. Some of the things that I considered wired to my personality have disappeared. I am in many aspects a new person. I don't even look the same to me. I dress differently, my speech is slower and I seldom complain. I used to fuss constantly about what I would wear, I spoke swiftly and I complained a lot. My hand signature has even changed.

I believe I am being restored. God in his handiwork is my general contractor who is rebuilding my life. While everything is different, I am happier now than I ever was or have been. I wouldn't want things any other way. While I was in the demolition stage of my life it was very painful. There were times I thought I could hardly bare it. Like my house remodeling, I just wanted it to end. I wanted to see it being put together, not being torn down. It was ugly to look at and be in, just like my life. Now I see the project that God has been working on starting to look pretty again, better than it was. It was worth it, just like my remodeling will be. I am tired from the manual labor but with every paint stroke I am grateful and awaiting the satisfaction of seeing it finished and taking in the beauty. Sometimes, often times, when this seem like they are falling apart they are really just coming together.

No comments:

Post a Comment