Friday was so great.
It's strange how much I love watching the Home being Improved.
I got a little emotional about it, actually. When we bought this house ten years ago, we had just come out of a truly terrible two years during which we'd moved to a city where we barely knew anyone, I'd almost immediately been in a serious accident, had six surgeries in six months, my parents had sold their house and moved across the country to be near us (and my sister and her family), and my father had passed away. So many things felt so suddenly broken or lost. I remember thinking that, like others in my family at that time, I was a refugee in my own life; almost everything in it (except, of course, for Andy) was new and strange and sad, and I felt utterly vulnerable, like a piece of dandelion fluff that might easily be lost to a strong wind. I barely recognized myself, or anything else. We had gotten married just the year before. Our wedding picture hung on the wall in our room, across from the bed. I remember staring at the picture and telling myself, over and over, "That is you. That is still you. That girl is still you." I told myself that every single day.
We started house-hunting in February 2000, after about two and a half years of living in Portland, and we didn't really enjoy it at all. I was surprised, because I had wanted my own house all of my life, but when it came time to find one, we weren't really in the right shape for hunting. Nothing on the market in our neighborhood (and we wanted to stay in our neighborhood) was even close to being right, and, if it was "right" it wasn't affordable. It was dreary and pouring rain outside. I just wanted the whole thing to be over with as quickly as possible so I could lay down.
A few weeks into it, this one came on the market. It definitely wasn't updated, but it wasn't really a fixer, either. Apparently there had been one couple before us that had gotten there first and had really wanted it, but as they pulled their car out of the driveway they bashed into the rock wall that edges the (very skinny and slopey) driveway; they drove away and never came back. We saw it immediately after them, and it was one of those things where you walk in and after one nanosecond you're like, "Oh, okay — this is fine — where do I sign?" It was clear from the front door that this one would be fine. But then when we went to the back and saw the studio (which was built as an addition by the previous owner who used it as a painting studio, and which is why we've just always called it "the studio"), it was obvious to both of us that this was a room that could help build a new life. You wouldn't necessarily think that one room could do that. But oh! how it did. At times even this (average-sized) house felt much too big and overwhelming (and we had almost nothing in the way of furniture, or curtains, or curtain rods, or pictures, or . . . anything that we needed to fill a whole house). But the studio was my first real room of my own. And it became my world, at a time when the real one outside seemed too scary and uncertain.
Cleaning out this room this week, ten years since arriving in it, has brought it all back to me, somehow. Those particular days feel so far away now. They left behind, after all was said and done, a residue of overwhelming gratitude. Our life has changed so much here. Being in this room with Andy again, moving, cleaning, building, dreaming, figuring, fixing, fussing, listening to music, talking, laughing, watching him. I love it so much. We have done this a lot by now, in many different spaces together. But this room is special, and both of us feel that. I leaned out the kitchen window and said to Floor Installer Guy #1 as he was cutting a board with the big saw on Friday, "This is one of the best days of my entire life!!!"
He goes, "Wow."
[Cue Andy sputtering.]
When the floor was in and the Guys were cleaning up, I said excitedly to Floor Installer Guy #2, "Don't you think this the prettiest room in the whole wide world?!?"
Photo by Andy Paulson, Master Mechanic.
He goes, "Er . . . top ten" [more giggling from Andy]. Guy #1, who was outside, said, "Does anyone know that there is a dog out here?" indicating Clover Meadow Paulson, who was outside sniffing around unsupervised near the wide-open back gate. I glanced up and said, "Oh, yeah, but I can't watch her because I only have eyes for my new floor!" [looking around smiling, pointing out new floor to Guys].
So. So. Wonderful.
On Saturday, I sat in a state of bewildered awe/borderline catatonia while Andy built all of the furniture. He insisted that it would be easier without my help. SPECTACULAR. Then he went back to work yesterday (Sunday) to "get some rest" (har). I started putting things away yesterday and got about one-third of the way done. I still can't believe this is my room.