Saws whine, dust flies and the installation of new travertine flooring is finally underway. I’ve envisioned this for years. The work began Wednesday afternoon with removal of the old carpet and chiseling out the tile. They ground-and-filled to level the slab concrete on Thursday before slathering on a dark brown, rubbery compound that will absorb small movements in the foundation and keep the tile from cracking. Then on Friday, they began laying tile.
I am sequestered in sections of my house, sometimes denied access from crossing to the other side. My fridge and kitchen table are side-by-side in the garage for meal prep. The stove sits idly by. I used the opportunity to clean 14-year-old construction debris from behind the corner Lazy-Susan and scrub dried dribble from the stove’s sides. Ick.
As I shift my stuff from one side of the house to the other, I can weigh its import, value, and worth. I clearly own more shit than anyone should. S’cuse my French. And speaking of fecal impaction... I moved into this home in haste. Boxes were stacked in the garage, and there, some remain. Many contained books that have since found new, temporary residence at The Bookworm, my favorite used bookstore. Box by box, I’ve worked to disimpact my garage.
Can I just say that books are painful to part with? I’m having difficulty entering the intergalactic wormhole, the portal, that digital divide to the digital world. But I can appreciate the thought of a spartan office and bookshelves. I can. I lack confidence, however, that it will happen in my office, in this lifetime. I like the feel and texture of paper, its musty scent that wafts when I turn a page and yes, even the clunk when it thunks and startles my repose.
As an aside, I had a recent epiphany as it relates to my garage and want for it to house both cars. The impasse to garaging two cars is where to store three bicycles, lawn equipment, wheel barrows, luggage, and Christmas stuff - if not the garage. My epiphany was that a small house needs the biggest, baddest shed available. To that end, I’ve found a 10X10 with a loft. Next!
Last year I was approached by a nursing girlfriend who was raised by nuns in an orphanage of the Yucatan. “Do you give clothes to Goodwill?”
“Of course,” I said.
“Would you give them to me instead? We need little clothes.”
Have you seen the people of the Yucatan? Mayan descendants, they are eensy-teensy-tiny. A pedi-endocrine nurse tells me the population has a known growth hormone deficiency and poor nutrition - but that's another story. Biannually, Maria and a fellow orphan caravan to the Yucatan bearing clothing, bedding, soap, pencils, toys, etc.
Included in my first pass and purge were 29 t-shirts. 29 t-shirts LB? Yep - and I don’t even like or wear t-shirts. I owned a number of event shirts like the Mercy Heart Day shirt and the Kaiser American Lung Ride team shirt. I found a 1998 Aloha Week t-shirt and a poi pounding t-shirt.
Next week, the tile setter moves into the master bedroom and closet; impetus for yet another disimpaction and purge.
I looked long at my favorite 3/4 length, indigo, wool gaberdine, circle skirt - size 3/4. While I my current weight is below that of high school, I’ve broadened through the butt and thickened through the waist. Egads! I want to blame this on menopause. Never in my adult life have I culled my wardrobe of clothes that no longer fit - sadly that day is here. I see that my body is remodeling as well, time to relinquish my fantasies and remove the old carpets.
What for have I four pairs of black jeans and numerous in blue? I don’t like or wear jeans. Nothing is sacred. If its the wrong color - that lovely, soft, dove gray that makes me look ill - its out. Purple is passé. Blue is banished. I intend to bag my scrubs but doubt they’ll be discarded until the end of my career - kinda like a hedge against a rainy day. Call me superstitious.
Unsettled => upset. I’ve been uprooted and it makes me notably short-tempered. It’s good to know that about myself. Having that awareness helps me be mindful in the present; that its not about the issue at hand but uprooted, unsettled and upset playing in the background - like elevator music.
The contractor reached into my cabinet with dusty digits for a glass. How do I know? The adjacent cups bore telltale prints along with shattered shards on the floor. Flash-point. The toilet seat is up. Flash-point. Where is the remote for the overhead fan? Flash-point.
Wait a sec - who declared I am graciousness and grace? Me! Moí! Counterpoint: Were I home, wouldn’t I offer them ice water? Yes. Don’t I want my house to be warm and welcoming - even to workers and strangers? Yes. Given that the contractors and sub-contractors are all men - isn’t an up toilet better than down? Yes indeedy!
Hold close those for whom you are generous and compassionate, for they will teach you grace. And grace, my friends, is the beanstalk to heaven on earth. In The Places that Scare You, Pema Chödrön touts the same. Learn grace where its easy, she says, then learn to include others: acquaintances, strangers, the difficult, the enemy and the world.
I try to do this everywhere and especially with the invisible: the wait-staff in restaurants, salesgirl Jessica at Talbot’s, receptionist Amy at the oil change, the medical assistants at work, and Vadím the tile setter.
This afternoon, and for the third consecutive year, we will hold the G-Court BBQ. We will block off the cul-de-sac, set up tables and chairs in the shade of my giant sycamore, and come together to commune and break bread. Last month, and by request, I published the first G-Court Gardner’s Gazette. I’ve remodeled my neighborhood too, to one of connection and assistance and inclusion and goodwill. It’s the single most rewarding thing I’ve done in my neighborhood.
Kenny Rankin sang poignantly, “What matters most is that we loved at all.” Sometimes I need to remind myself who I say I am. Sometimes I get by with a little help from my friends. I see that I am remodeling in many spheres: mind, body, workplace, home and neighborhood.
Change is inevitable and life is naught but crossing the pond, one unstable lily pad to the next. I’ve been accused of being a Pollyanna but recognizing that my life is always in some stage of remodel, and that inherent to remodel is unsettled => upset enables me to see beyond to the miraculous; flash-point => flash-dance.
Tappin' a tango on travertine. I've got my dancin' slippers on. You?