Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Renovation Day 1

The sky was a watercolor cadet blue when I left this morning. I came struggling out of my mother's garage dragging my little dog, bags dangling from my shoulder. She tugged at her leash as I guided her down the street in search of my car. I loaded us both in the car and drove back to the garage for my older daughter so I could take her to school. Classes start at just after seven so we are up early every morning.

I am taking my daughter to school every morning because we are living with my mother. I have piled my husband, two kids, and our dog into my mother's three bedroom condo because we have decided to blast apart our center hall colonial to create a more livable, usable space. Today is the day construction starts, so after I take my little dog for her morning romp in the ball field, I swing by the house to take down the trash.

The poor little dog is so confused, having her bed moved into a strange building full of suspicious noises and coming back to sniff her own house. This morning the entire main level is empty (except the garage) and my voice echoes off the walls. Sunlight streams in the front windows, and I take "before" pictures. The old dining room, the crazy kitchen, the dreadful center hall. I drag the last bags of trash down to the street and take one last look around.

I hold the door open for the dog, and she gives me a look that says, "But this is my house!" She turns and trots away, and I have to walk behind her to encourage her to leave. We walk down the steps of our concrete stoop and drive away into uncertain future.

The next time I see my front door the steps leading to it are lying in pieces in the front yard, which has been overrun by machines. The patio has become a giant hole full of rocks. The kitchen cabinets have lost their doors, and a great gaping hole sits yawning where the oven used to be. (This was the oven with the broiler element that dangled by a couple of screws and threatened to fall on our morning toast. I used to pray every time I used it--Last Rites.)

I had left the basement bookshelves almost cleared. A hurricane glass from Pat O'Brien's full of coins and a small vase with dried flowers had been sitting in a corner near empty aquarium equipment boxes. Now everything in the room has been moved to the center and practically shrink wrapped with heavy plastic. The work crew has certainly been efficient.

I go back outside and survey the scene--to me it looks like a movie "bigature" created with children's toys, the work crew having been filmed earlier on a green screen. I watch with a mixture of excitement and fear. The excitement is generated by a sense of unstoppable motion--the snowball has started rolling down the hill, gathering speed. The fear is born of risk. To make such an investment in an uncertain economy is stepping out of our comfort zone.

This is no mere building project for us. It is the adventure of a lifetime, a reaching for a great prize. We have wanted to do this project for years, and now we have finally gained the courage to conquer obstacle after obstacle to make it happen. Today is just the beginning.

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