Husband #1 took off during his mid-life crisis and left me with a newly purchased house that needed a lot of updating. The prior owners had lived in the home for nearly 30 years and it looked as though they were pretty happy with the time warp decorating they created 3 decades earlier. The kitchen cabinets were stained dark brown, the walls were covered with wallpaper, the carpet was red shag, there was paneling, and the hue of dusty blue was the trim color of choice in ever bedroom.
We bought the house because of its size. The center hall, brick colonial was large and each of the four bedrooms measured at least 12×11. There were mature oak trees on the 1/2 acre lot and the neighborhood was located within 1 block of the high school and just a short walk away from the elementary school. It was quiet, established, and filled with azaleas.
With grim resolve and a little bit of cash, I decided to tackle the upgrades on my own. One of my proudest accomplishments was laying down 3/4″ tongue and groove Jatoba hardwood in the dining room. That wood was beautiful and it was a beast to cut.
I had never attempted a project like this before but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Out came my compound miter saw and I rented an air compressor along with the flooring nail gun. I measured, cut, laid, fastened, and prayed with each piece of wood as it went down.
The floor looked fantastic. Even my relative, who was a contractor for 40+ years, commented on the high quality of my work. I wish I could have brought it with me to this house. That floor had two things I put into every personal project: My dedication and my heart.
Painting was a whole-house project. I steamed and scraped off old wall paper, sanded surfaces smooth, and picked out colors that soothed me. Putting a fresh coat on an old house makes everything look new and bright. It’s like makeup for buildings.
Now with Divorce #2 looming, I’ve gone back to my remodeling ways. I had a long list of projects that Husband #2 and I had started over the years (but never really finished) and my goal was to get them to completion. Before he left, Husband #2 and I worked day and night on the list, getting as much done before his departure deadline. I’m sure many will think I’m insane for working side by side with him non-stop for those 7 weeks but when we put our minds to a project we work like a well-oiled machine. We are great together. And we had fun doing it.
Husband #2 left two weeks earlier than his deadline, but that was at my insistence. I needed him to think about “us” and he wouldn’t do it while he was still here. His driving mission was to be by himself…to be alone. To be free.
It was with many tears that I opened the door and told him to go. Now he is gone, never to return, and I’m back to remodeling.
Yesterday I installed trim work. Today I painted. Tomorrow I will do landscaping. I will pour my attention and heart into my home. I will love it and it will love me. And knowing that I can “fix” my house will, in turn, heal my spirit.
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