Monday, May 12, 2008

Belaying Floors

I was asked the other day why I am not cooking meals at my little place. My mind roved over the images of a kitchen full of construction junk, and smiled inwardly: so easy to understand; so difficult to explain.

Dust is on everything. Boxes clutter the corners. Something has to be moved to get to anything else. The intention was to keep possessions and furniture out until floors were sanded at least, but the clutter has arrived.

No shelf has been designated for bills in or payments out, so piles have grown haphazardly and I fear some are currently forgotten, lost or late. The laundry is now a project to be hauled up the street, endured and waited out, so it is not done, another pile in another corner.

Shelves quickly are built to get the books on display, lending a semblance of comfort. My Dad’s unframed paintings are thumbtacked on the walls, covering the bare surfaces. Carpets are thrown down and quickly covered with paths of sawdust and chips. There is no place to eat a meal--the one table being covered with computer, mat knife, hand cream, papers, and paper plates—much less cook one.

For several weeks, I have been looking at the pile of recycled oak ready for installation, and known that before that could happen, I needed to solve the two major dips in the subfloor. Brief explorations have revealed that this will be an ugly, dirty, hand-scratchingly terrible job to replace hard-to-reach rot. No clean and simple task, so the project, the Entire Project, stands on hold.

Instead, I have eaten out, gone to movies, played soccer, diverted my attention from this renovation which would lead me to feeling more settled in my new place.

Avoidance and procrastination seem to be constant challenges in my life. Necessary tasks to a better future also seem to create discomfort and are easy to set aside, even at the expense of setting “Life” aside. Unwilling to face the obstacle, I can easily find distractions. More “pressing” demands offer the perfect excuses.

There have been times this repair could have been made. I stared at the spot, contemplating solutions. I have devised a plan and brought my tools inside, ready to attack, but still have not begun, the ugliness, the dirty reality of the task too daunting. My kitchen has remained an unusable mess.

Could there be some deeper issue at stake? Is this avoidance of a dirty job really about not accepting the changes, the Reason I am here? Perhaps if this space becomes “finished” and livable, I will have to repair the rest of my life, examine the looming future, and actually move through the open door mysteriously just before me.

But, of course, there is a new door at every moment, a juncture with every footstep, even when no step is taken. This future arrives whether I sit in idle contemplation or recreate my surroundings into some place inviting, beautiful and comfortable. The power lies within me.

So when the time is right, with crowbars and saws, I rip more holes in the floor, install new straight wood where the old had rotted and sagged. Even with a mask, I am gagged by the odor and dust. My hands bleed, my fingers claw at every last piece I can reach, scratched by bent, rusty nails. Still more dust settles on my scattered belongings, but at last, I can continue to install the oak.

Life is at hand: soon, I will be cooking at Home.

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TheElementary said...

"Shelves quickly are built to get the books on display, lending a semblance of comfort."
-I too add the books first to the shelves when we move somewhere and everything else is a mess. I know it's not the same as constructing a house but both bring their own mess and disorganisation.
It does bring comfort and makes a place feel more like home.
I do like how you turned a post about repairing a house into something else, something to think about. It's in the strangest moments that we find pause for reflection.

Anonymous said...

Maybe when you realize that YOU choose to be in the space when you know you have other choices and you take responsibility for that choice that you make then the rest will easily fall into place. Then you will find yourself rapidly making a home for yourself and your children. It's all up to you. Only you can save you. Good Luck and have faith in yourself.