The Truth in Renovation - Feb 2012
|This past week we relocated the entire
brood to do some much needed renovation work on the old house. We had
made a difficult decision to spend our limited funds on home
improvements rather than taking off to some sunny, semi-tropical
destination on the theory that we would get far more out of our money
that way. While my father's house wasn't on the beach in Fort
Lauderdale, it was still more luxurious than our home and far more
well-equipped. Jaden enjoyed being under the same roof as Grampa and
took full advantage of his unlimited attention whenever possible. Fatih
spent the days working on refinishing all wood floors on the first
floor, repairing some plaster damage and repainting the stairwell and
painting the great room. This past Tuesday I got my first real look at
all his hard work. It was an amazing transformation.
My decision to keep the house after my first divorce was one born of need rather than want. I had needed a project, a mission to divert my attention from the fallout of an ugly failed relationship. I had always loved that old house but it came with a boatload of memories, most of them bad. Still, I moved in. I planned to bury those bad memories in new paint, throw out all the yard sale furniture and fill in the fist-sized holes myself. The process by which I re-invented my home was very challenging and healing. And while gutting rooms and knocking through walls was very cathartic, new paint and fancy new decor will only go so far to change your perception of a space. It was still a place that had seen to much pain, sheltered too much shame. When I met Fatih it was always my plan to sell and find a new space to build our lives together. Then we were blessed with the birth of our daughter and the decision to sell was put on hold while we adjusted to life with our precious newborn. We converted one of the spare bedrooms to nursery and told ourselves we would stay put until Jaden was walking. By the time our little girl was taking those first few steps, the recession had squashed the opportunity sell and upgrade. Suddenly the list of all those repairs and improvements seemed unavoidable...it was time to get cracking. At least we could improve our space and enjoy it until conditions again became favorable. So the plan was set, we would start with the floors and walls and go on from there.
I walked back into our home Tuesday night and I realized two things simultaneously...
First, I love this house. I love sweeping openness of the floorplan, made even more impressive with the shiny new wood floors with their depression-era pattern. I love the high ceilings,arch ways and wide rooms, made even brighter with the soft new paint. I love the character of this home and the integrity of its original construction.
Secondly, and this is the most important thing, I love that we have made a life here, the life I share with my husband and daughter. And while I know that eventually we will all move on to a quaint neighborhood in the country, the memories that I will associate with this old house belong to us now. It has been the pulse and heartbeat of our existence here that have truly managed to cleanse this space of those bad memories in a way that remodeling and renovation never could have. The spare room at the top of the stairs will always be my daughter's first room - the peaceful place I sat so many nights, rocking and dreaming of what the child I carried would be like when she finally arrived. The stairs will be the first ones she learned to climb. I will remember those floors because they will be the ones my husband coaxed ageless beauty from on his own hands and knees. That kitchen will be the one where I made the meals my daughter never ate and the place where all our parties seemed to begin and end. Those walls and rooms will be the ones that witnessed all the amazing human drama of our growing, loving family.
One day, when we do leave, I know I can stand in the center of that home, close my eyes and hear the echoes of my daughter's laughter. I know when we do move away, this home will be remembered as our family's first...and only that. I can not begin to describe how grateful I am for that truth.