Wed, 04 Sep 2013 17:51:34 -0700
It's been the summer of houses. Mine, in which the so-called "summer kitchen remodel" will be lucky to be done in time for Thanksgiving. In June I temporarily moved into Jack's tasteful one-bedroom in the Haight during the structural work -- a welcome respite of minimalism and bright rugs surrounded by the smell from the sidewalk below of incense and weed, whose foggy quiet is regularly punctuated by foghorns carrying from the much-nearer bridge. He patiently watched as I filled his closet with shirts and a number of fancy dresses (operas, and all those summer weddings!), filled his bathroom cabinet with feminine ablution paraphernalia, filled his fridge with weekly vegetables we didn't always make it through. We played house (a lovely, time-limited experiment). And, though the structural contractors only slipped schedule by one day, somehow I failed to account for the patching-up process, and for anything remotely resembling the lead time for designing and fabricating cabinets. Which is why I'm still coming home daily to a house covered in lath-and-plaster dust, navigating plastic partitions hung up around the living room as the only way to avoid coating the couch in a fine white powder. I bought a proper, grown-up vacuum cleaner, and have been nightly wielding it somewhat neurotically -- Lady Macbeth if Duncan had been a Victorian ceiling medallion.
But the house is slowly taking shape. Cool as it was to see the steel beams in the ceiling that replaced that one little structural wall, it's surprisingly comforting to have them hidden from sight behind some properly redone wiring and new drywall. Medallions have been rehung, a new light fixture for the hallway run, hanging bits of molding sawn off and the corners finished. Next week we should be able to remove the dropcloths and give everything a good scrubbing. And then the kitchen itself will still be several months out.
Jack, too! Without abandoning his cute, rent-controlled 1br, he closed on a house two weeks ago in North Lake of Lake Tahoe, adding him to the ranks of the landed gentry (albeit landed a three-hour drive from the city). We went up last weekend, taking Friday off work to make an extra long holiday weekend. I'd bought him a pie plate, measuring cups, spatula, and a small bucket of colored chalk for the blackboard wall enclosing the pantry -- outfitting the house with the few items it didn't already have, since it was sold lock, stock, and barrel, sheets, towels, and half-drunk bottles of good sherry included.
This is more than playing house -- more than merging my clothes into his drawers, more even than ripping up walls and reinforcing the foundation of my 1885 condo. This is a house. Freestanding, surrounded by tall pines and aspens, looking into the mountains, a full wall of windows, a fireplace, an entry way with ski and snowboard pegs, a hot tub. Trail heads just down the road, leading up into Granite Chief Wilderness, to a cluster of small pretty lakes. No check-out time; just another hike on Monday, watching the sun go down behind the mountains from the couch, a beer in hand; then a late drive back to SF, across the brand-new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Amazing and luxurious, and it's his to keep (well, to keep up the payments on), and mine to visit through him -- to hike with him and to kayak leisurely around the lake, to adjust pie-baking temperatures for altitude, to snowboard with him when the snow comes, to cuddle up with him after the last lift closes. We bought season passes Sunday morning over blueberry pancakes. Deeply luxurious.
And once my cabinets are done and the ceiling dust settles, I'll go back from worrying about my house to luxuriating in it, too. That part just may take the rest of the year.