I’ve abandoned the shovel and taken up, instead, an old, plastic juice jug. The jug holds more than the shovel and does not require the balance and precision that a shovel does between scoop and dump. It also does not tear the plastic under the gravel, which is a huge improvement to the process. Except for the jug, my routine remains the same: lift, scoop, sweep, lift, scoop, sweep, lift, scoop, sweep, cut, pull, lift, scoop, sweep, etc., etc. The trips to the holding pile to empty the wheel barrow are becoming noticeably less frequent due to the fact that I can fill it with a larger load. Even in such a short time, my muscles have gotten stronger and my stamina has improved. I ache all over, but I’m thinking that this isn’t bad at all for an old woman.
The dream is getting closer to being manifest. With each scoop of gravel and cut of plastic I am inching ever-nearer to the goal. And I marvel at the fact that this is actually happening.
I tend to be an idea person. I’m full of them – ideas, that is. Some are rather clever and probably worthy of follow-through action, but that is not my typical MO. I don’t often have the desire to put in the effort to make them come alive. If I could sell my ideas, I’d be rich. Since buying this house, though, some latent oomph has stirred within me and, thus, I am outside grunting and heaving and slowly transforming a vexing space into... Well, into something else. I have an idea of what I want it to all look like in the end, but no real notion as to how to make it all come together. I’m relying entirely on instinct and intuition, listening to a little voice directing me to put this here and move that there.
This project is teaching me many things, not the least of which is patience. If I had my druthers, the yard would take two, maybe three days, max, to become what I want it to become. I may have watched too many episodes of Extreme Home Make-over in my time. What I couldn’t do with a crew of hundreds! But, for the most part, it’s just little old me out there. And I suspect that, for the most part, I am going to remain on my own. Oddly, I don’t mind. Once I’m out there, I slip into a meditative state of mind, somewhat oblivious to the rest of the world, yet keenly in tune with it, it seems.
I am also learning not to make assumptions about other people’s reactions. When the previous owner called and said she was coming to town, I wanted to hide. I assumed that she would be upset to see all her hard work being torn apart. Instead she was encouraging about it, saying that she understood that I had my own ideas and tastes. I felt simultaneous relief and foolishness – why do I always imagine great drama instead of great support?
And I’m figuring out that not everyone who says that they want to help, really wants to help. While a few people have come over and lent a hand, most who say they will, do not. I’m not sure why they waste the words in the first place only to end up stuttering through an obviously made-up excuse later. Why offer to help at all? It’s not like I’m calling them up and asking them to come over and work – they say things like, “Do you need any help?”, or, “I’ll stop by on Saturday and help you with that.” I guess I’m supposed to say something like, “Thank you, but I can manage,” and let them off the hook, instead of, “Great! I’ll see you about ten then.” Perhaps the colour draining from their faces is meant to be a clue. And here I am thinking that I’m being nice not expecting them at eight, being the weekend and all.
“There’s naught funnier than folk,” as Grandma Rigg used to say.
The truth is that I’m not harbouring any expectations. I don’t anticipate anyone showing up. It’s not like I’m in a position to offer them anything in exchange for their time and effort. I’m not looking for accolades. I’m doing this for me, for my pleasure, for the sense of accomplishment that I know it will one day bring. I’ve always wanted a unique and interesting and fun home. I love that I can now work toward creating that and if it takes years to do, then so be it. The point is that I now have the ability to decide for myself without having to justify anything to anyone else. No one can say that it’s dumb or a waste of time. Well, I suppose they can, but I don’t care. If they don’t like it, too bad. What matters is that I like it. And when I’m done, if others like it too, then I will be proud and happy to be able to share it with them.
I’m really starting to love life. It’s so different now than ever before. I feel good about myself and I don’t worry about what other people are thinking so much. My esteem has been emancipated from the restrictions of obligatory duty and compromise that have dominated my entire life. I get up in the morning with a smile on my face. I go to bed feeling content and happy. It’s weird, in an extraordinarily natural way. I simply cannot remember ever feeling like I truly belong and deserve before. I can express myself without worrying about consent or approval. I want a labyrinth and by golly I’m going to make one. I want a mural on my wall and gosh darn it, I’m going to paint one. It’s fun.
The other day someone asked me if I was ever lonely in this big, old house all by myself. I smiled and said, “No. I have my dreams to keep me company.” And there are many of them – dreams, that is. Some are simple and some are more complex. Some are easily obtainable and some will take more effort and planning. Some will be realized and some will remain dreams. But it’s all so grand and exciting just to be able to dream with the knowledge that I can make them come true if I want to. In my own way, in my own time.
And on that happy note, I’m off to soak my aching muscles in a hot bath.