This morning I greet the one (Adam) who has been working on the foyer (really, let’s call it what it is – mud room).
What’s the plan for today? I ask.
I’ll finish trimming and putting in the base boards. Andy and Sean will be here to clear the place and finish the shelves upstairs. And to caulk the window frame. We’ll be done today.
Done? Done??? Oh...
...unless you have something else?
I don’t. Ed is on the phone, chatting to a friend. I want to shake him off – Ed, they are about to finish up! What else? What else??? But Ed talks on and I have to confront by myself the fact that my construction crew is about to desert me.
I tell Andy that, as always, he has been my bedrock solid friend in this project. I tell him that surely we’ll call for help with the next thing and the next. But will we? Ed is such a “do it yourself” person. I tell Andy – sorry for the trouble we caused by so often interfering, bringing our own, changing the terms. Andy laughs. It’s been fun. I think he means it.
One grandson finishes the foyer, the other finishes the stapling, building, puttying. They carry out all their equipment. I have to go to work, but I know that when I come back, they will not be here. Gone.
I miss them already.
I come home and the house is empty. Done. I mean, not really done – my list of things to finish is long. Ed’s list is modest, but still with stuff on it. But, the major reconstruction is done. I had asked Andy – is this the most transformative reconstruction you’ve done? The man has been in construction for surely more than half a century. Yeah... pretty much, he tells me.
I wipe down the floor in the mud room (formerly: foyer). We’ve cleared the construction stuff out of the front room earlier in the day. These two rooms (the front room, the mud room) were the last to be “done” but now they’re surely done. Here, take a look:
There are those who’ll tell you that remodeling, rebuilding – it’s all a pain in the ass. But for us, it hasn’t been that at all. Yes, sure, neither Ed or I had to live with the dust. But each stage was in fact more exciting than the last. And each stage, as a result of all our (well, okay, their) cumulative efforts resulted in something better, nicer, more beautiful than I had hoped for.
It’s been a fantastic reconstruction. Thanks Andy. And Ed.
In the evening, in the quiet of an evening, I go back to making a soup for several days ahead. Ed is messing with the "media center" (an ancient computer, a tiny TV and his ingenuity). He clicks on an iTunes song I had downloaded many years back on the ancient computer.
We're neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We'll do the best we know.
We'll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow...
And make our garden grow.
I cry... How can I not? Nearly forty years ago, when I was an au pair (a nanny who also helped tend to things around the house), the parents of my charge gave me tickets to Candide. Go see a Broadway show! Take a friend! -- they said (they themselves could not use the tickets that evening). I was a fresh immigrant. I knew no one whom I could take to a Broadway show. I was at the university during the day and with my charge in the evenings. I went by myself and wasted the second ticket.
I loved the show. I bought the record the next day and played it. Again and again.
So here I am, waiting to plant the garden. Forty years ago, I still imagined that being wise and good was doable. Now, there's a garden and the house is pretty much built and ...there you have it.