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It occurs to me that I've been taciturn on the personal blah-og lately in part because my life for the last year has been largely about renovation.

I blog about that sort of thing already on the chic page. But the chic blog isn't personal. It's distant. I have fun with it, but I don't really say anything that gets to the core, do I? I guess that's what I'm supposed to be doing over here.

The truth is that renovation works perfectly as a metaphor for my life over the last few years.

Upon extracting myself from the secret fiasco that was my world in Vancouver (let's not get into it), things went decidedly off the rails. For a year or two, I had a lot of fun. I went on a lot of dates. I went back to school. I spent my scholarship money with abandon. You might say I veered off course and backpedaled all the way into 2002.

That was demolition.

Over the last year, I've been rebuilding. Rebuilding a real, grownup sort of life. I moved into this house almost a year ago. I started hauling my stuff over in mid-June and took possession on the first of July, 2009. And since then, we've been fixing it up. Our place is practically unrecognizable from what it was nearly a year ago. And finally... FINALLY the end is in sight.

When you're doing it, the work of renovation isn't fun. A full year of cleaning and scraping and painting and hammering and building and painting and scraping and organizing is... well, hard. First there's the tiling, and the frustration that comes with the fact that you've already cracked a couple of them, and then there's the painting, only it turns out you bought the wrong colour. So there's repainting. And repainting again. And then there's a flood. And then the roofers come. Only they don't come on time. Nobody comes on time. And things break. And other things get lost. And you have an Ikea fight with your partner because you're so frustrated and everyone else in the world (including him, his mother, the checkout clerk, the dog, and that woman standing off to the right) is so incredibly stupid. And you clean and you clean, but there's always more dust. You spend too much money on takeout and gain 12 lbs. And you're anxious, not only because you're sleep deprived and have been breathing lead paint fumes for several months, but because you're living in a world you don't recognize and aren't comfortable with.

You think it WILL be comfortable. Eventually. You have a really pretty picture in your mind about what your life could be. But in the storm of getting there, the windows fog up and you can't remember what you hoped for. Change is unsettling at best, but renovations are terrifying.

Now, leave the metaphor for a minute and imagine that you're not just scraping away at and painting over your walls, you're working on your whole life. You're leaving behind the things you thought you wanted, you're giving up materialism, you're changing the way you eat, sleep, and read. You thought you had an idea of what the future you was going to look like, but you're getting tired and you aren't so sure anymore. Maybe you ARE who you were. You're pretty sure you aren't. You're pretty sure that particular you was horrible and hard to maintain. It can't be right. It wasn't natural. You weren't happy...were you? Isn't that what you remember? Being unhappy? Maybe you should go back. Just to check. Just to make sure.

It's like how you feel when you think you might have left the oven on. Times a billion.

I'll say it again: renovation is hard.

But you take your little steps, you shuffle along, and bit by bit, you get closer. You get closer and clearer until you can see the end you imagined in the first place, and you start to feel... relieved.

It was worth it. All this work. All this change. It was the rightest of all right things.

So you start to relax and it feels... good again.

*Photo by Khaane from Stock Xchng.

 


Comments

Jen,

This post has resonated with me and am sure will do the same with so many. It is beyond words the way I felt when I finished reading it so I won't even try to explain. Just know that your thoughts and your writing is greatly appreciated.

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06/22/2010 09:35

What a great post! There must be something in the air, cause I just wrote a very similar one. It is hard. But we'll all get there or die trying. I've been renovating for seven years (I'm talking the life kind), and sometimes I feel like I'm at the end of my rope, "worthless", "stupid", "never going to figure this out". But then something happens (a person I like writes a very personal blog post, for instance), and I realize we're all basically in the same place. Thanks for being yourself. It helps others, it really does.

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06/22/2010 09:40

Thanks so much, Michelle. I'm honoured to have someone from your beautiful site visit. And thanks to you too, Angela -- for always giving such kind feedback. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

(Also thanks to yourhome.ca editor Jen Speedy for spreading the word -- via Twitter -- in the first place.)

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06/22/2010 09:45

Like everyone else, this post really resonates with me. And the metaphor you applied is spot on.

Thank you for sharing a more personal side to yourself. I often find when I do posts like these I get a little personal therapy when I hit the post button. I hope you did too. :)

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Heidi
07/22/2010 10:28

All I can say is wow. You really did nail it for so many of us. The only thing I regret is not getting to know this side of you when I had the chance. Total kindred spirits.

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07/22/2010 10:44

Thanks, Heidi. And hey, at least we have the interweb. Now we can be kindred spirits on our own terms, without the limitations and baggage of a certain family that shall remain nameless. ;)

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