Bye, Calypso

One hundred and seventy eight pages of documents to sign--signatures indicated by colorful sticky flags.

A friend is almost a year ahead of us in the renovation journey. Journey is her word.

She’s been at this way longer than us, which makes sense given the (huge) scope of her project. But her identification of journeys seems to have some universality. She has named the design journey, the finance journey, the downsize journey and the journey of the build. There may be more as they are revealed to her. I’m sitting at the foot of her throne of wisdom, waiting for her to drop more knowledge.

Yesterday, we did our finance journey. Or, at least, a major part.

We had one-hundred and seventy eight pages of forms and contracts and acknowledgements and clauses and hold harmlesses and a smattering of goofiness that all needed to be signed.

So, today, I will tell you some of the things we agreed to.

  • We won’t run a meth lab on the property.
  • We won’t do any nuclear energy experiments, either.
  • We will buy insurance to protect against fire. And locusts. And fire hail. We didn’t need flood insurance, so no protection against a river of blood.
  • We will show how we would sign our names with and without middle initials.
  • I wouldn’t demonstrate how I would sign my name misspelled. Seemed counter-productive.
  • We initialed four different documents that said we saw four different credit reports. Each of us did that. That was sixteen of the pages.
  • We gave our lender permission to ask the IRS information about us that we already provided to them from the IRS.
  • We did that a second time, too, but this time as a married couple. So there was a total of three forms saying the same thing to the IRS about information that was already in the file.
  • We said we were not terrorists. And this is true because we signed a form with our drivers license numbers.
  • We signed a paper saying we were married. I did laugh out loud for that one, especially since the Spouse refused to acknowledge our relationship on Facebook for years.
  • We put our initials on a bunch of pages. The Spouse dogged me for missing one. The notary found one the Spouse missed and let me pay his snark back. I liked that guy.

There were many more pages and affirmations and agreements and promises in the finance journey. Yet it is all simply the prelude to the writing of the checks. Now, signing those lines feel like the real Odyssey. Next journey, up. I hope we didn’t piss off Poseidon.

The Midnight Train Goin’ Anywhere

a confusing array of kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls. Who could decide? They are all fine.

Kitchens. Baths. Mudrooms. Decks. Master suites. Remodels. Some people are all about the process of remaking a home into theirs: the discovery, the design, the development. Me? I’m about the Done.

The thought of picking out knobs for cabinets, looking for the perfect granite vein, comparing backsplash options, selecting faucet and matching vanity lights? Shoot me now, in the head.

It’s not that I don’t care. I want a good remodel. I want to respect the bones of our great old house. I definitely have an aesthetic, but extreme nuance is uninteresting and somewhat unfathomable to me. Shades of taupe? Notched or twisted pull? I really don’t care. Does it work? Is it sturdy? Does it look okay? Great! Done and done.

I’m simple. My goal is to be able to cook a good dinner and for my guests to be able to turn on the light in the bathroom. Right now it’s a trick. The switch is on the outside wall. Inside would be a huge win. Another criteria is that nobody gets electrocuted. If someone gives me a reasonable fixture option, I’ll say yes. I care about completion and operation.

A friend was talking about a partner who wants to completely understand the process. He’s researching the natural light from multiple sources and how they will blend and create a perfect reading spot. He explores design with the fervor of a securities attorney unraveling the complex law–in this case laws of nature, laws of composition, and even, perhaps, those of humanity. The journey is made of hundreds, if not thousands, of turns that will determine the future of their lives.

Me, I’ll take the average of those options and plot a way forward. I’m not so deep.

I’m not being flip. Okay a little flip, but I don’t think he’s wrong. I’ll stipulate that there can be meaning in all those options. I personally can’t care about most of them. It’s why I only drove back to Detroit twice in decades. I can’t stand to drive eleven hours–twenty-two round trip–when I can fly in seventy minutes. I care about being there not getting there.

“Wait, Doc!” you say. “Look out the window will you?”

And to you I say, “have you ever driven on the Ohio Turnpike? Nothing to see here. Move along.” Yes, I have patience issues. I want to be there more than get there.

People have their things. People really enjoy the art and craft of serial-remodeling, either the same house or flipping houses. People like to shop shop shop for the best antique or best bargain or best find. People tinker with their cars inside and out, sometimes spending more time on the detailing than on driving.

I’m not immune. I would rather start a meal from scratch–selecting, washing, cutting and roasting or sautéeing vegetables; whisking the mustard into the oil and lemon juice for a vinaigrette; flipping a steak continuously in a red hot cast iron skillet and basting it with butter. Some call me crazed to perform cooking feats at the end of a workday. But this journey, from kitchen to table, is as important to me as the destination, from fork to lips.

I don’t know why some journeys have meaning to some and not to others. Why the selection of a pecan over a walnut floor stain defines peace for one person and elicits indifference in another? Why having flowers in my house is important to me, but arranging them is not?

When I was thinking about being a destination person and not a journey person, I realized that I was wrong. We are all on our own meta-journey that is made up of mini-journeys and side destinations along the way.  This greatest journey has a destination, too. The destination none of us will avoid, but most of us are not anxious to see.

I’m working on enjoying my overall journey on my own path until it’s natural end. There’s nothing else.