Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Renovating the House




It all started with just a repair to a small section of one part of one ceiling of one room.  

I knew that to fix it I’d have to have the asbestos removed from that ceiling and to have the asbestos removed, I’d need a special team of professionals and as long as they were in the house to do that, they might as well do the rest of the ceilings and then there was the painting and the rugs and, well… you know how that goes.  

Soon I found myself in the garage, amid all my belongings rocking back and forth as large men raised a ruckus in the house with sprayers and scrapers and hammers and generators, gutting my whole house.

Maybe I am a person who relies too much on the perceived stability of place.  

You use a bathroom vanity for twenty years or so and you start to think of it as an immovable object.  Then, with one idea, one decision, with one signature on a line, with one word, people you have never seen before in your life come in and in an astonishingly short time destroy everything.  

You see the toilet you used that morning ripped from the floor with astonishing ease.  The vanity comes out in splintered pieces.  The bathtub that you cleaned just last week is hoisted upon shoulders and carried off like a strange sailing ship being carried to the water’s edge.  

What can be carted away that day is never seen again.  The door, cabinet or toilet that temporarily remains until the next empty truck is deposited in the back yard and is tragically misplaced and out of context.

I have come to the conclusion the idea of permanence is an illusion that we need to have to just to function day-to-day. 

It’s a lesson that I have learned in many ways over the last year.  Fixtures in my life-- things I thought were solid and steady--were suddenly gone.  Marriage, home, future plans—all ripped up, thrown away, carried away with one idea, one decision, one signature on a line, one word: divorce.  

Divorce takes all the things you thought were heavy, stable and permanent in your life and smashes them up, carries them out the front door.  It’s a mess.  It takes a long time for the dust to settle and even long after there are still items, ideas, and dreams that mysteriously remain strewn about,  weirdly out of context.

Renovation, in all forms, whether planned or unexpected, whether unwanted or desired, is a mind-numbing, soul-sapping process.  When the air starts to clear, and the debris is carried away, you look around at what remains.  

If you are lucky, like I was, you will find that the love of your children, the steadfastness of friends, your faith in a higher power, and the essential strength of your own character are indeed still there. 

 You may just find that all of those things were, in fact, the pillars of the original version of the house.  

The new design may be simple and less ornate than the original, but the tradeoff is knowing exactly what the foundation is made of and insisting that each future choice lends only integrity to that new structure. 

35 comments:

Mamma has spoken said...

Amen Betty, Amen!
It was one hell of a journey for you, but glad to see where it lead you.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I absolutely love your closing paragraph.

Madi and Mom said...

BB thank goodness your words and ability to put them on paper, or in this case in cyber space, did not get buried, tossed or covered in dust during all of this renovation!!
Absolutely beautiful said as per usual.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wise words, Betty! It's the intangibles that really hold our lives together.

Leah J. Utas said...

Well put, Betty.
Renovation of a home or of a life, or both, really shows us how strong our foundations are.

Lin said...

Sometimes you've got to strip away the fluff to find that the core is good and strong. But why do we have to go through all that agony to find that out??

Great post today, Betty. You've come a long, long way in a very short time. You've held your head in grace and honor--not many can do that, you know.

I can't wait to see the finished product of your major overhaul. What's nice is that this will definitely feel like YOUR place and not what is left over from before.

Alison said...

Once you adjust to the idea of life's fixtures being less permanent than you thought, it can be quite freeing to realize you don't actually need so many of them.

Now...when's the last time you cleaned out your purse? ;)

Leanne said...

So well put, Betty. Such an amazing reflection on life as we all know it, and I am so proud of you for this past year - that you are able to put these words together so clearly. You strength is greater than even you know, my friend, and I am so glad to be able to read about your journey here. Big hugs.

Olga said...

It is obvious that you have inner strength to guide you through all this and that you have a newly defined sense of place. Good for you. You survived and more.

Brian said...

You sure have lots of fixin going on!

Larri SeamsInspired said...

And the people all say, "AMEN!" Excellent post, my friend. Excellent.

Deanna said...

Beautifully said. I'm not sure how you've kept your sanity throughout all the upheaval but your future is looking bright.

Joan said...

What an apt and lovely analogy.

Cranberry Morning said...

Yeah, it certainly is a very good analogy. Very well said and thought-provoking post.

Retired English Teacher said...

I feel as if I should stand upon my feet, clap my hands, and shout, "Bravo!" after reading this post. You have written the most beautiful post about loss, destruction, and rebuilding. Your use of the analogy of your remodel hits the nail on the head. Loved this, Betty.

Baby Sister said...

That last paragraph is perfect. I loved this post!!

Hilary said...

Nicely said. It truly is all about the foundation.

Tabor said...

Nothing is permanent. Live is like a flowing river and changes each year. You, on the other hand, seem to have an abundance of wisdom and intelligence.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You are a force to reckoned with. I really would not have been so good natured about the wreckage of the renovations.

Old Kitty said...

Awww BB!!! Written so beautifully and with such sagacity too! Thank you! Take care
x

Gigi said...

Oh, Betty! This post was beautiful and brilliantly written. This particular phrase "I have come to the conclusion the idea of permanence is an illusion that we need to have to just to function day-to-day." resonated with me. So very true.

Pam Lofton said...

I was so glad to see you pop up on my sidebar! I was getting worried about you girl! Love this piece- brilliantly written, as usual!

Daisy said...

Well said, Betty. I liked this comparison. Sometimes when things aren't working right, you have to break them worse first before they can be fixed. Your last paragraph really captures it all. Hugs to you.

Chuck said...

What courage to start this new chapter in your life in such a dramatic way...bravo for you!

The Green Streak said...

Perfect analogy for what's happened to you over the past year. And like the house, you're more beautiful and stronger than before. Love and Hugs

jenny_o said...

Betty, you are so great at seeing the parallels in life.

I'm so happy your pillars are intact.

Pat Tillett said...

And it's all of your design!
A beautiful post and statement about life. I'm so happy that you are happy these days...

Anne Gallagher said...

Bravo. I am just so proud of how far you've come since last year.

SueAnn Lommler said...

So true my dear friend. So true!
It is easy to rely on other people and things...but they will let us down...and usually when we need them the most. Best to rely on ourselves...just remember to show up everyday!!
Just saying...
Hugs
SueAnn

Peggy K said...

Your words give me strength, BB. Thank you!

Robin Larkspur said...

Strong, positive statements.
Can't wait to see photos of the brand new House of Betty.

Katherines Corner said...

UGH! but it will all be worth it xo

CiCi said...

Great post. The strength in the foundation can withstand changes and damage. This was the perfect time for you to get the rehab on your house done. It is fitting indeed.

Lindy MacDuff said...

I am amazed by all that has transpired in your life this past year and your strength. I agree with CiCi's comment above - this was the perfect, fitting time for your house renovation. Soon you will be able to shake off and sweep up the last of the dust.

It was a nice surprise to have you visit my blog. :-)

Kevin O'Kane said...

Nobody said renovation was ever going to be an easy phase for anyone out there. You need to be both physically and mentally strong enough to go through this difficult stage before you get to take in all that pride when the new place is up and running again. Renovation is not about gutting out the place alone but it comprises more than just that particular step. You would see the plumbing, scraping, hacking and everything physical that you could think of would actually be involved altogether simultaneously. It will be a rough ride at first but rest assured after all that is over, your patience will be highly rewarded.