I remember a sunny Monday morning in early June, 1974. Classes had ended at DePaul University the previous Friday, and I would graduate the following Saturday. Since entering kindergarten in September 1957, I had been going to school from September to June, and repeating the cycle again the following September. It was literally the only life I knew. School for nine months, vacation for three months. Lather, rinse, repeat. But wait, I thought--not only do I not have to go to school today, I never have to go to school again.
Dare I believe it? I was done.
It shook me to the core.
I remembered that feeling last night, after the burly young men packed all the scraps and fuzz and staples and things out the front door and roared off in their Ford van. I looked around at our lower level. Slab. Plumbing. Tile. Paint. Carpeting. Linoleum. It's all there, functional and gorgeous. Things that had been breaking or leaking or cockeyed (or just plain plug-ugly) for several years were now as they should be. We were done.
Wow. This project was starting to feel like a way of life. I will confess that by June of 1974 I was getting tired of going to school. I was tired of getting ready. I wanted to dive in and get some things done, which I did. (Two weeks later I got a job at Lafayette Radio fixing burned-out stereos, portable radios that somebody's kid had thrown up in, CBs that some dork had hooked to a TV antenna, etc.) I am long past ready to have my workshop and exercise room back, and a guest room for nephew Matt and his lady Justine to stay in when they visit next month.
Ok. I admit that it's really not quite sincerely done. We now have a beautiful, empty lower level. There is one more job for burly young men to do: drag all the furniture out of the furnace room, the unfinished bedroom, and the odd corners of my workshop and put it back where it belongs. I guess I then have to unpack 1,000 books and re-shelve them.
No biggie. That's just rearranging things I already have. The hard stuff, the stuff that had to be chosen, matched, paid for, delivered, and glued to the floor or slobbered on the walls, that's all done.
Which is simply to say that it's a big hearty Deo gratias and the dawn of the first day of the rest of our lives. Oh, and note to self: Our next house will not be on the side of a mountain.