The second floor of our home, where our kitchen, living and dining rooms are, has finally been restored. The new wood floors went in last week and the painters finished yesterday at 2pm. The dining room has a bold new indigo blue wall, just for the fun of it. I have spent the day cleaning the saw dust off the decks, and dusting the furniture. Two large art pieces have been moved out of the master bedroom but aren’t yet hung.
For months, every space that wasn’t being worked on had furniture, art and other things in it from the spaces being worked on. After spending most of the last two weeks locked with the cats in an overcrowded master bedroom on the third floor, I thought I’d feel more energetic about this transition. Certainly it means that we are at least half way through the recovery process from the floods, caused by a broken pipe in our concrete slab dating back to mid-February, leaving two of the three floors in our townhome a mess.
After focusing on moving back in to our second floor this morning, I napped this afternoon, exhausted by the heat and by how much more I still have to do. I am also daunted by the opportunity to limit what comes back into our space: I want to curate and declutter, and improve the look and feel of our home now that most of our surfaces are new and sparkly. Paying attention to what is beautiful and joyful, as opposed to what we have just because we have it, is not easy work. Therefore, many precious (and frankly, many not so precious) items are still neatly stacked in our master bedroom closet.
Our first floor restoration isn’t faring quite as well, and is still very much in repair mode. We’ve had “trenchers” in the hole in and under our concrete slab since early last week, pulling out the remaining gravel, shoring up the walls with 2 by 12 planks, and preparing to replace all the plumbing under our unit in one fell swoop this coming Monday. After the pipe ‘swap,’ holes still need to be drilled to replace the rebar across the hole in the concrete, and fresh cement needs to be poured. We had hoped all this would be complete by today, but it looks like we’ll be lucky if they complete the work by next Friday. For those keeping score at home, that brings the life of the hole in our slab as of today to 58 days. (It is a truly impressive hole, and I believe that’s an equally impressive life span!)
It takes a lot to be restored: to heal and recover, to renew and revive, and to return to “normal.” It all sounds fresh and crisp, but it is effortful to cast off the old and replace or find the new. It involves choice: to take action and to refrain from action, both, selectively and mindfully considered. I keep reminding myself that my own restoration from this mess, from dislocation through anger and cramped resignation, to peace and a renewed sense of home, has not been an easy trek. Feeling nappish is to be expected.
Next week will be six months since I left my job for this gap year. Being very mindful of the frame through which I am considering things today (meaning tired and a bit blue), I am amazed that so much time has gone by. The gremlin in my head says “with so little to show for it” but I know that’s not what this time has been about. This first part of my year off, no matter how I thought I was shaping it, was always going to be about restoration, a combination of healing and recovery, and relaxed exploration after years of feeling driven and accountable. I also need to recognize how incredibly disruptive this whole repair/reconstruction of our home has been to my vision for this time, and that my own recovery and restoration is still in its early days. Much like the first floor of our home…
We have been invited to return to God’s Pocket (a dive/kayak resort on Hurst Island, off the Northern tip of Vancouver Island) for five weeks of a care-taking/management gig, including oversight for two kayak charters. We leave next Friday, with or without a completed cement pour. I worry, of course, about leaving the place somewhat undone, and about our cats who have suffered with first our absence and then the chaos of the place. We have a wonderful friend house-sitting and cat-caring for us, and I know he would laugh at my hand wringing.
So, needless to say, we are looking forward to being back in beautiful British Columbia, to seeing our friends Annie and Bill again, to resting a bit, and to trying our hands at holding things together for guests in the “hospitality industry.”
For my part, I hope for restoration, the kind that comes from relaxing into the rhythm of the day in a beautiful and special place.
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