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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Labor of Love

I woke up on Saturday morning eager to demolish some bathrooms. I donned my (now) usual gear of respirator and safety goggles and set to work pulling up broken tile and filling bags with debris and garbage. Demolition is a blunt instrument. You don't have to be smart or careful. You just have to be a workhorse.

The mindless, repetitive movements of scraping, pulling, and bagging lulled me into a meditative state. I meant to spend an hour or so doing this, but the sun moved steadily across the sky as I lost track of time.

At 3 PM, Jon called me downstairs to help him with some carpentry. This annoyed me.

I don't like leaving a job unfinished and I don't like carpentry. I don't like the precision and focus it requires. I don't like the tools involved. I don't like that it's complicated and hard and usually ends with me feeling frustrated and disappointed.

But I love Jon and I like to think I'm a good sport so I headed down to the front of the building, where Jon was building a barn door. For real. Actually, he was building three barn doors. Enormous doors to be built from cedar planks and hung from steel runners on the ceiling.

Some people build raised beds as a weekend carpentry projects. Jon decides to build some barn doors.

For the rest of the night and into the next day, Jon and I measured, sawed, drilled, re-measured, re-drilled, and hung three beautiful, heavy cedar doors in the our storefront. During that time, I felt frustrated more than a few times. Carpentry is NOT meditative.

Fortunately, I was working with Jon. While I was cursing myself for sawing crooked and cursing Jon for making me do this stupid project that I wasn't any good at and keeping me from my bathroom demo, Jon was a sight to behold.
He was patient and focused. He moved quickly, even gracefully. When the barn door hardware didn't roll smoothly through heavy steel rails (that he had hauled up a ladder and painstakingly drilled into the ceiling), he didn't panic. He didn't curse himself or get disappointed and decide he hated carpentry because it never worked out the way you wanted it to.

He fixed it. He found a shim in the basement and he wedged it between into the rails until they were flush and held the roller hardware perfectly. He solved dozens of problems last night and woke up at dawn this morning to solve some more.

At 3 PM today, our barn doors were in place. They glide across the width of the storefront. They hide our tenant's furniture storage from the street and create a small, day-lit workspace for Jon.

We didn't get to gut a bathroom this weekend. Instead, we made something beautiful.

1 comment:

  1. A lyrical, lovely story of hard work, choices, partnership and the satisfaction of a job well done. Thank you for bring us into the job.

    I can't wait for more.