Right now, I'm sitting in the Albany airport, waiting for a flight back to the midwest to see my family. My dear, sweet grandma Jeanne had a heart attack and is in the hospital, and every ounce of my being is ringing with impatient need to be there, be with her, be with family. Though grandma is chipper, optimistic and warm-hearted as ever, complimenting all the nurses on their hair and shoes and generally charming everyone, she's in serious condition. I love that woman so much it hurts.
Yesterday evening, right before a Labor Day party of picnic fare with the neighbors, Tyler and I put the last swipe of plaster on the last section of the last exterior wall. In other words: the plaster on the outside of the house is officially finished for the year. The brown coat (the second coat) will cure for a year, and then we'll put a third, finish coat of plaster on next spring.
With the final burnish of a neoprene float, we exhaled a monumental sigh of relief. That chapter of our lives is, for the moment, over. Our peace of mind has increased significantly. On the horizon there are hints of a new chapter unfolding. A bit of breathing room. The promise of a life (or a few blissful months, at least) that do not revolve around building.
All of our time, money, and energy, has been channeled into this homestead for months and years now. It has been a trying and exhausting and stressful and straining and bicker-filled spring and summer and fall. This is easily the hardest thing we've ever done. We've often wondered how in the hell we'll make it. But we have. For the moment, at least.
As I sit here in the airport, surrounded by the throng and buzz of humanity, I feel apart from it, oddly quiet and at peace. For the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, there isn't something I need to be doing. Nothing urgent I need to be working on. It occurs to me that there were once times when Tyler and I did things together. Like, things other than building. When we used to have weekends not completely usurped by dawn-til-dusk building. Building, building, building. That's pretty much all we do.
We were sitting in our new wood-fired hot tub the other day, talking about my brother coming to visit during a cross-country road trip he is doing while on sabbatical in October. Lian had said he wanted to help with the project, and Tyler was offering suggestions of things we could do with him, since we'd be done with the house by then (note from the future: rriiiiggght.).
"We could start on the Grindbygg pony wall" he said, in an off-hand kind of way. My jaw dropped. He had to be kidding, but he was looking at me so seriously. I gaped, and then blurted out, "Are you fucking insane? Really? Really!? REALLY!?!?!? We will have just about finished the house (or as much as we're finishing this year) and you want to START ON ANOTHER BUILDING PROJECT IN OCTOBER?! YOU MUST BE AN ANDROID! HOW ARE YOU NOT A ROBOT?" And then, a bit more calmly: "How about we go to a fall festival, or have a bonfire, or go on a hike, or celebrate the fact that we are not building anything!??"
We laughed then, but I was struck by the blinders we seem to have on. We've been on the building track for so long, it seems crazy to be able to do anything but. This past weekend, we missed Clear Brook's 20th anniversary party and a bluegrass event with Patty and Joanna. We miss pretty much anything that happens during daylight hours, or on the weekend. Weekends have been sacred, the only time we can dedicate entire days to working together.
But here we are. We made it. Or rather, we are going to make it. The outside plaster is done. And that cottage is the prettiest little thing I have ever seen and I am in love with it. We have a few more things to finish on the inside, and then we can begin plastering there too. But glimpses of a real life are starting to become more frequent.
We recently purchased tickets to see our current favorite band, Dawn of Midi play at Signal Kitchen in Burlington. We're making plans to attend the Maine Common Ground Country Fair with Mike and Eliza, and we're getting the hard sell from Pete and Natasha about a vacation on an honest-to-god tropical island which will enticingly be during the grossest part of mud season. An actual vacation, one without a building-related goal, and without a challenging form of transport. The kind where you swim and sit on the beach and drink adult beverages.
We're going to make it.