It’s funny how one thing can lead to another, right?
A few weeks ago, Gina noticed a faint water spot in the ceiling of our music studio / home office / library / crafts refuge / basement fun room. I crossed my fingers and closed my eyes shut really tight and hoped that it would go away. Surprisingly, it got worse.
That meant, of course, that it was time to get a plumber involved. And not just for your average toilet clog. No, we’re talking sawing-through-the-ceiling, drywall-dust-everywhere, blowtorch-wielding, no-holds-barred plumbing action. At the end of a Friday afternoon, two pipes with pinhole leaks had been replaced, and there was a giant hole in the ceiling of our fun room. A younger version of Bret might have called up a handyman next to patch the hole, but now I’m older and wiser, and trying to save every dime of money I can now that there’s a baby on the way. So I resolved to take care of the cleanup and patchwork on my own.
Eatin’ drywall dust.
This part wasn’t too bad, actually. I think I surprised everyone, including myself, by patching the hole up rather nicely with some replacement gypsum board, drywall tape, and a healthy amount of joint compound. It’s amazing what you can fake your way through after watching a few YouTube tutorials. I’m still picking the stuff out of my fingernails three weeks later, but it was a triumphant occasion. I climbed down from the ladder and gazed at my accomplishment, but only for a few minutes. If you’ve ever patched up a ceiling or wall, you know that the patch is only half the battle. Patches may look good on your jeans in the late 80′s or on your eye if you’re a pirate, but no one wants a discolored, mismatching glob on their ceiling. And so I knew I had to paint.
There are times in our lives when we know, deep within our soul, what the right thing to do is. Maybe you see an elderly lady struggling to help her husband out of the car, so you take up their offer to help. Perhaps you find a lost dog with a collar, so you call the owners to bring the dog back to its loving home. Maybe you’re facing a relatively small painting job, but you realize that if you really want to do the job right, you should just go ahead and paint the whole room to match the colors you and your wife had picked out but still hadn’t bothered to extend to the bottom floor of your house. These are the times that try men’s souls, but it’s a testament to your character if you press on and do them anyway. So, reluctantly, I did.
I should point out that Gina, by this time, had succumbed to a nasty summer cold that left her in alternating fits of coughing and sleeping for three solid weeks, so I took on the job knowing she couldn’t help that much. I still did it.
Our fun studio room is packed deceptively densely with memorabilia and other items of, well, fun. It took me the better part of a day just to clear out the shelves and other totes, bins, and boxes until the adjacent basement family room resembled a small-town general store, or maybe just a teenager’s bedroom, with every surface covered by random stuff. From there, it was a time-consuming but otherwise uneventful and uninteresting process to paint the room. Sometime along the way, though while I was painting, Gina began going through boxes of mementos to try to thin down our massive collection of
junk stuff that I’d hauled out of the room. We’d long ago decided that we were going to try to purge the house as we began preparing the nursery. It’s as good a time as any, right?
What’s amazing is what she found: mementos of nearly all the trips we’ve taken since we’ve gotten married, stuffed in boxes for years. While she sorted through, we got to relive pieces of our honeymoon cruise and road trips that we’d nearly forgotten. She even dug out some emails that we’d exchanged while we were dating in college – mushy stuff, mostly embarrassing, but they brought smiles to our faces all the same. For my part, I took a break from the brushes and mined out a box that held notes I took while trying to play some early computer games – passwords, notes to myself on where to find items, that sort of thing. But I also found a calendar from high school where I’d actually marked the days when some of the best times of my teenage years happened.
I guess part of life sometimes is your wife noticing a water stain that ultimately leads to her and you sharing memories in a hallway overcrowded with junk. Thanks, butterflies.
When I finally did go back to paint, leaving Gina to finish up the sorting of papers, I smiled despite the aches in my neck and shoulders. For the first time in a while, I was conscious of the fact that we’ve really built a nice life together, even if it means patching a few holes now and then.
I crossed my fingers and closed my eyes shut really tight and prayed that would never change.