Building Walls


I have a lot of experience at building emotional walls but today I got to build some different walls. Real walls! The kind that are made from lumber, as in a building, a structure. Me! I drilled through studs and used the big nail gun that is powered by an air compressor. Let me tell ya, using a big bad construction tool is empowering but the back story to my wall-building is even more empowering.

My story starts in my kitchen with its dark cabinets, ancient hardware, damaged linoleum, and autumn gold appliances from the 70’s. I know retro is cool, but this kitchen ain’t. Oh, how I’ve longed for a new kitchen! I’m talking 27 long years of longing since we bought this home. Lest you think I’m spoiled, please note that my husband’s occupation makes him an expert at remodels and construction.  The costs for such a project, for us, would be reasonable and doable. But, like the doctor whose family goes unattended during illness, my family’s kitchen remains the same as it did around the time Neal Diamond was singing “Song Sung Blue.” I’ve been singing the kitchen blues for seemingly forever.

Truth is, my kitchen sometimes triggers me. When I wrote down all my resentments for LifeStar, I couldn’t read through my kitchen story because of my emotions. I have been promised, as in “this is going to happen” “there’s no reason we can’t get this done” type promises, numerous times.

More than once, husband and I have shopped together for cabinets, tile, and counter-top materials. So much time and planning would get my hopes up and then I would sink into disappointment as one excuse or another simply fizzled away all our efforts. The worst thing is, as I look back in hindsight, the kitchen-promise episodes always occurred during times husband was acting out. I’ll spare you the details, but trust me, the memories are painful.

Part of the kitchen remodel will extend into what is currently our garage. So, husband decided to build a new garage in order to make the kitchen extension happen. And the new garage is actually being built as planned in part because the new Vic is determined to do what she can to keep construction rolling. It’s a bit intimidating to get building permits and look into hiring contractors when an expert in the field is in the same household. It’s a little like trying to paint a landscape with a painter-artist like the late Bob Ross looking over your shoulder. Despite my lack of experience, I’m trying to be more proactive in this endeavor in hopes of finally getting a kitchen with an oven that bakes evenly without me having to turn the pans midway through the process!

Fortunately for me, my husband is beginning to recognize this project as an opportunity to build more than a garage; he’s working hard to build my trust, as well. So, every evening for an hour or two, husband and I work together to measure, saw, and nail boards in order to create the framing walls for our new structure. Husband has been extremely patient and kind as I very slowly perform construction tasks that he can typically do in half the time.

Years ago, I would half-jokingly tell people that Husband and I had a great relationship unless we tried to work together! Today things are different.

After standing two of the outside walls, Husband and I took a short break. I noticed the sky was a deep blue, possibly signaling an oncoming change in weather. A light breeze cooled my heated face and softly lifted a wisp of hair from my eyes. The tree branches rustled with approval as I glanced at my husband. Signs of recovery are often so subtle that I find myself questioning if it is real. Today, there are undeniable signs of recovery, such as patience, humility, and the ability to accept imperfections. Though Husband and I both have more rough spots to smooth out, there is progress being made. We are literally and figuratively building something together.