It is amazing – every day – how life teaches me what it is about, rather than what I think it is about. How little I know, how little I see. How much I have to learn and grow. When we began this process of home selling and buying, Bedlam Farm was on the market for $475,000 and we were told and believed that was more than reasonable, quite realistic.
We had all sorts of plans to to things to the new house with the money from the house sale – painting, plumbing, wiring, fencing, room additions. That's what happened when I came to Bedlam Farm in 2003. I had lots of money to spend, and I spent it.
Maria and I are both busy in our own work, and it did not really occur to either of us that six months later, Bedlam Farm would be on the market for $375,000 and we would own a second house, eagerly awaiting us. I have mowed my own lawn once or twice in my life and can't recall painting anything.
Our list of immediate and urgent improvements has shrunk quite dramatically – amazing how urgent things can be put off – and our ideas about who will do the work has changed. This week, Maria and I have been painting the kitchen, scrubbing and cleaning out the rusty and greasy cabinets, scouring the floors and faucets, handles and corners.
I have long wanted to mow my own lawn, and today I got to do it. I put on my sun hat, plugged in my Ipod – Van Morrison to mowing. I was proud of myself. Maria and I are finding that we are very happy to be doing this work ourselves. If we had the money, we wouldn't have done it. Maria has worked restoring buildings and homes, but I have not. Maria was dubious about my bumbling around and making a big mess, but I was careful and she said I did well and she was proud of me. Me too. The thing is, we love the chance to get intimate with our new home. To know it inside and out. To put our own marks on it, our own stamp. We work easily and happily together. Today we finished painting the kitchen walls and cabinets, two doors leading to the pantry and bathroom. Next weekend, we tackle the living room. We are going to paint it an off-white.
I brought a music speaker and we paused several times to dance to Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan and Springsteen. I like the new and gloomy Leonard Cohen. We went to a farm market and got soup, tomatoes, fresh blueberries and biscotti. We got stinky and spattered. We laughed and yakked. We visited Rocky in his cozy new stall, where he now spends most of the day away from the heat and flies. Red and Lenore came and Red saw watching me while I boiled on the hot mower for three hours. Red watched me every second I was painting, watching me work like him. Maria scrubbed rusty metal, greasy cabinets, slimy floors.
Lenore got white paint all over herself and black dog hair all over the paint. Maria and I both agreed it was one of the best and sweetest days we have spent in our time together. We can't wait to get back to fixing up our house, to knowing every inch of it. To working on a house of our own. To making it ours.
Isn't life curious in that way? How it surprises us if we permit it to take its course. At first, I was discouraged that we couldn't hire people to do all of the things we had planned to do. And embarrassed. I have books to write, talks to give.
I don't feel that way today, and perhaps I am learning where I belong in life. How lucky we are to be able to do this ourselves, to do this together. A house of our own. Just think of it.