Wires Run: Two Full Room!
Nervousness About Inspection for Wires Run: High
Inspections For Said Wires Passed?: Yes!
Hours Spent in Delightful Tedium: Twenty
Essential Home Depot Supplies Arrived On Time: NONE
Additional Trash Bags Filled: Seventeen
Hours Lost to One Dumb Mistake With Recessed Light Installation: Two
Heating Vents Demolished While Bellowing Like A Beserk Norse Warrior: All Of Them
Catharsis Derived From Demolition: Extreme
New Roof Installed: One
Time In Which Roof Was Installed: One Terrifyingly Fast Day
Work: Ongoing and Eternal

This house has officially turned from an Adventure to a Job.

Not surprisingly, this revelation came to me while running the incredibly tedious one-man relay race that is sticking electrical cable through a hole in the first floor bedroom into the basement, going to the opposite end of the house, going down the stairs, and then running (my knees would like me to inform you that I use the word “running” only in the most metaphorical sense) to the opposite end of the basement to pull it through, straighten it out, stick it up through a small hole in the basement rafters, and running back upstairs. Wash, rinse, repeat, six to infinity more times, with associated pauses to drill through very thick joists with a small, not-really-made-for-this drill which would valiantly grind out a hole in about the time it would take me to read War and Peace.

That was the better part of a full day this last week, with work of similar excitement on the horizon. I haven’t found a dead cat, fallen through a poorly secured well cover, discovered an amazing old-time treasure, or shoveled a pile of fossilized excrement in months now, and while my back, nose, and sanity certainly appreciate it, it has taken the wild contours of a renovation roller coaster ride that was filled to the brim with both excitement and nausea, and turned into the sort of kiddy-in-the-small-train-car sort of ride that is a perfect soporific on a late Saturday afternoon at any respectable amusement park.

Combine this with a very definite change in deadline from “Eh, in the next few years, isn’t this just a lot of fun?” to “Next Summer or Bust”; and this has gone from that Fun Hobby I Do On Weekends to a “Pack Your Lunch Pail and You’re Going to Work, No I Don’t Care How Tired You Are” project that has made realize that I am very definitively working two jobs instead of one.

There are still pleasures in this work, but they’re slower ones.

There’s the pleasant burn as your body first protests, and then contentedly settles into a day of physical activity.

There’s the satisfaction of every small benchmark hit (I passed by first inspection by the code officer!) and competency demonstrated.

There’s the spacious joy of solitude (a rare commodity when one is the father of two small children) uncomplicated by mental demands.

There’s the more prosaic joy of audio books and listening to entire albums beginning to end.

There are the fleeting moments where you hear birdsong, catch the smell of flowers on the breeze, or look around and see what this project will feel like when it has gone from gutted walls to a living reality.

These are the sort of pleasures that are lost to today’s attentionally spastic world. Many of us run on the energy of novelty. Whether it be in relationships, in work, in hobby, or in community; there is always a seismic burst of enthusiasm and engagement at the beginning; followed by a very quick drop off when the Exciting Thing loses its new car smell, and the experience becomes harder and more tedious. Before long, the job or relationship is changed, the hobby dropped for a new one, the community left, ostensibly to find something that is a better fit for their soul or because Life Got Too Busy; but really because they’re off to seek the energy of the New someplace else.

However, the best parts always happen after the energy of novelty has been expended. The deepest friendship (and most enduring romance) always come when the relational fizzies die off and you are left simply with each other, in all your enduring quirks and imperfections. Competence comes only after the initial excitement dies off and you engage with often-tedious practice and incremental improvement. Community is only transformative when you spend time together after the social chemistry has subsided to a more sedate level, people’s rough edges come out, and the  trust emerges that always predates deep soul work.

So it is with the house. The bud is off the rose. The most exciting discoveries have been made. The vast expanse of the New is shrinking daily, ceding its territory to the Old But the Necessary.

All of this was entirely inevitable. Every project, be they human or house related, involves this sort of transition. Now it’s time for me to pick up lunch pail and let the real work begin.


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