Saturday, April 24, 2010
My Grand Obsession
I haven't been writing much lately because I've been in the throes of an obsession--with our house plans. The delays in getting further refined versions of the plan drove me to desperate measures: I got out the graph paper and tried to draw it myself. For hours. In the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. Yes, I have had it bad. Still do actually. Don't ask me what I did today.
I love planning anything, but this house is special. I have never had a nice, complete home, the kind with well hung walls and intentional furniture. I've somehow ended up with a life of make do and free and grand visions that never quite got realized. I'm determined that this house will be different. Of course, there will be a bank involved, and they're sticklers on that done part. And if we can afford a turn-key builder, it might even reach done the relatively easy way. But that remains to be seen. I may be the crazed general contractor sometime this summer, even though my friends who've built advise against it. (I'm praying for builders who need work.)
This obsession is a lot like being in love. Thoughts of the house are my mind's busy wallpaper, constantly sparkling and shifting as new problems and inspirations appear in the imaginary space. I visualize over and over again what I'd like to see when I walk in my front door. I see myself kneading bread on a generous counter top in my sunny kitchen. The house dominates my thoughts and conversation so much that even my indulgent husband is starting to get a certain bemused smile when I come around yet again to my latest idea.
But I do go on with regular life. I bathe, and eat, get my chores done. I'm not clinical or anything. It's just so fascinating and fun! When it's not frustrating.
All my failed attempts have taught me great admiration for architects. This three dimensional manipulation of space, trying to achieve a graceful inner and outer balance of masses and windows and gables, is not so simple. I have cut out templates of our desired spaces and pushed them around on the desktop until I gave up in despair (briefly), especially when I got to the 3D geometry of the upper half story. I've checked out books from the library. I've asked for divine guidance and searched the online plan catalogs all over again, trying to figure out just how these designers elegantly pack living space into the kind of small house we need to build. When I've really felt blocked, I've researched topics that I know will be decision points later, like windows and water heaters.
All those details and possibilities, however mundane, are hugely exciting to me. I feel a constant happy tension, like the expectation of Christmas Eve when I was a child. Or, yes, the passionate desire of being in love. Like both of those states, the longing and promise are thrilling but interfere with important things like sleep. I am so consumed that when D told me over the phone that he had picked up new plan versions, my delight was beyond words. I couldn't think of normal things to say in response. I just felt like squealing with pure eagerness. I couldn't wait to get my hands and eyes on them.
Imagine my disappointment when I got home and saw many things about the drawings that were nothing like what I had expected. Then imagine my husband's disappointment that I was disappointed. D is so un-picky and ready for something to be happening, that he would probably build anything I would agree to live in. But I'm not so easy going about my dream house.
The perhaps crazy truth is that I want this house like I've wanted few other things in my life. And like those other good things toward which I've been compelled (marriage, motherhood, culinary school), this adventure is both exhilarating and exhausting, charming and challenging, beguiling and vexing--all at the same time. And isn't that just like early love?
My patience probably isn't helped by living with my in-laws. We are all as good about it as we can be, but two different families under one roof is not easy. That's just the way that is. And now the warm weather has come--building weather--and the parents-in-law are beginning to verbally prod. There is enough pressure that the husband has uncharacteristically put his foot down: if we don't have some kind of time line in place by June, we are moving out. No more waiting around nicely. So I made an appointment with the draftsman and his computer program last Wednesday, during which we ironed out quite a few issues, including the upstairs room arrangement that had so disappointed me in the latest drawings.
And guess what? My obsession paid off in just a little vindication. Even though my 10th grade advanced geometry teacher told me too late that I didn't belong in that class, apparently I'm not so dumb. My laboriously conceived upstairs proposal worked--and more gracefully, in my opinion. Other ideas of mine were starting to look good, too, but we ran out of time. Since sitting down together with the CAD program will speed this project up appreciably, I targeted the next appointment before leaving. I 'm bird doggin' it now. C'est l'amour fou!
Now you five dear followers know what grand folly has captured me. After months of mostly keeping it to myself, I have decided to write about my roller coaster journey both because it's so great a part of my little life right now and also because sharing my experience might help someone else. One of the houses that has most inspired me came from a blog where a woman did just that. I really need to thank her.
And that isn't all that's moving into my life. If I can manage to keep my focus on writing instead of...you know...I'll elaborate on my other adventures later.