Our Painted Lady is not so painted. She's got eczema, of a wooden house sort, with strips of paint curling away from her. It will take thousands of dollars to soothe the flareups and powder her nose. It's a big task that's way down on our list of priorities, below creating a more user-friendly first floor bathroom ($$) and a kitchen you want to cook and spend time in ($$$$). We've categorized it as a project we'd like to tackle within five years.
Even so, those raggedy patches have a way of getting on one's nerves, or, more precisely, my Dear Husband's nerves. He mentions the peeling paint often. I have to keep reminding him that we're not supposed to be thinking about this right now.
His latest comment: "I wish I had all the money in the world. I'd get this place painted, top to bottom, turn it into a real showpiece."
He said this to me over the phone, the old fashioned way, no Skype or FaceTime enabled, so he didn't see me make a prune face.
"But honey," I said. (At least, I hope I did. It's always best to follow up a prune face with a term of endearment.) "This place is already a showpiece. Even with the peeling paint."
I should talk, me of the face of wrinkled fruit. I, too, get restless and irritable over undone tasks and looming responsibilities. I want everything in place and our transition to our new community all figured out. I want to know how we're going to make a living, and what it's going to look like and, more important, feel like.
How are we going to turn this place into one filled with friends, visitors, guests, workshop-taker, fun-makers? To rent rooms out as a bed and breakfast, we'll need more beds, and there soon won't be a kitchen to make breakfasts, once the demolition begins. Who's going to come? How are we going to get them to come? When are we going to start building out the apartment over the garage, so we can add that as a source of income? Who's going to rent it, once we build it? Will they be responsible debt-fearing types, or will we have to put our New York badass on every first day of the month, when the rent is due?
What's going to happen, and when will we know we have come through it well? I laugh, just writing this. It seems so obvious, once I step back from the fretting:
We won't know until we get there, and we won't get there until we make the journey. And there's no skipping over that part.
Cheryl Strayed, in the bestselling memoir and hit movie, Wild, doesn't find redemption from her messed-up struggle with drugs, boys and despair after one day of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. That 1,100 mile trip took three months. The ancient pilgrimage trail of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela is walked, not driven or flown. Transformation can come in an instant, but the build-up to God's big reveal, the pilgrimage, takes time.
Why rush? My whole life, I have been straining to see further along down the path. The current scenery was never enough to hold my attention. I wanted to be 21 when I was 12. I wanted to be in college already, while still in high school. In my first (and only) job in publishing, as a fact-checker of the mailing lists of a scholarly publishing house, I spent so much time on the phone wingeing about when my real career was going to start that I was fired within six weeks.
That actually turned out to be a blessing. God, it was awful. I wanted to be an editorial assistant, on the path toward becoming a big time editor of Important Works of Fiction, but the only editing I was doing was of addresses on mailing labels. I've so banished all thought of my shameful departure, I can't even remember the name of the publishing house.
I'm straining now, too, like a tired trail horse sensing the stable is just around the next bend. Just 25 more days until I move to Ada for good. And then, I catch myself thinking, my life's going to be a showpiece.
But it's already a showpiece now, rough patches and all.