Saturday, April 17, 2010

Building A Mystery - construction and relationships

I mentioned last week that I was helping a friend get her new store ready to open. I have been there a few times, late at night, to try to be of some assistance. I probably haven't been much help, but I hope I brought some humor to the situation. Because as anyone who has remodeled a home or business need a lot of humor to get through construction.

They have been busting ass, getting a lot done, and everyone has remained remarkably civil, if I do say so myself. But as the deadline approaches, and days until the opening turn to mere hours, the stress level is rising over there, I do believe. When I arrived last week, after an hour-long drive and an extra large iced tea, I had to pee desperately. I threw a bag of groceries on the floor and raced off to the bathroom. As I rounded the corner, I was met with a huge, quickly widening puddle. I had a very bad feeling. I stuck my head into the bathroom and watched as the toilet gurgled and bubbled and overflowed all over the floor. I turned around and ran back through the store. "Hey" I called "do you guys have a toilet that isn't overflowing?"

As I jumped into the car and zipped off to the closest McDonalds, they were searching for a plunger and throwing old towels and sweatshirts on the floor to contain the mess. That night, when i lay in bed thinking of how much they had accomplished, and how much they had left to do, I was reminded of my own toilet-related catastrophe, which also occured under the pressure of a deadline.

And so, from the other side of the island, safely ensconced in my kitchen with no drywall dust to cloud my thoughts, and not one but TWO fully-functioning (not to rub it in or anything) toilets, I am going to tell a little story of our very own remodeling nightmare. To lighten the mood.

On the occasion of my 9th wedding anniversary, my husband and I were at an impasse. It was the day of our annual anniversary party, where we traditionally wait until the last minute to get ready and then have a massive fight followed by a cooling off period, concluded with a raucous alcohol-soaked bash with all of our friends. Our anniversary party really sums up our marriage. It encapsulates the good, bad and ugly. That night, we had about 50 people coming over for dinner and dancing. We had hired a band. We had hired a babysitter. We were committed. For the past year, we had been slowly remodeling the house, and we had one major project to complete.

The bathroom.

The only bathroom.

For one reason or another, the project had been pushed back time and again, and now there was no putting it off any longer. The old toilet and sink were in really bad shape, and had been removed the day before. We had the new toilet and the new sink all ready to go, sitting in the bathtub. The night before, we had retiled the bathroom floor in a panic, and now that the grout was (mostly) dry, the new toilet and sink were going to have to be installed that day - there were exactly 8 hours to get the bathroom put back together, before people started to arrive. If we didn't meet our deadline, people would be peeing in the bushes. My husband was feeling a little bit of pressure, mostly because I was freaking the fuck out. He is, by all accounts, a very laid-back dude. He rarely gets ruffled or loses his temper. Instead of getting nasty (*ahem* like me some people) he responds to pressure by becoming a complete and total goofball. He breaks things, he forgets stuff, things go wrong. He gets nervous, I get increasingly agitated, and then finally, I lose my shit and yell, and then he yells back (which has happened maybe 5 times in our entire marriage) and then, hopefully, we get back to work and get things done.

The day began with me standing on the porch screaming, while my husband ran around shouting over his shoulder and doing more things that were infuriating me. Our neighbor, who was trying to lead a yoga class in her studio a few houses away, interrupted meditation to tell them that they should use this as an opportunity to practice focusing within themselves in chaotic surroundings. Usually, that is probably a skill that one could use in a public place, or on public transportation or something. In this case, it was to distract yourself from a neighbor screaming FUCK YOU at the top of her lungs while trying to get a stroller in the back of her minivan.

I dragged the children out of the house and into the car and left in a cloud of exhaust with my middle finger clearly and proudly displayed. Yoga class resumed, and my husband managed to get the toilet and sink installed, with a practice flush as our first guests arrived.

Through home remodeling projects, we have learned that there are several important features to a long-lasting relationship:

Honesty ("You are acting like a total idiot and I cant stand it anymore stop being such an asshole you prick")
Compromise ("How about I finish this project, and you kiss my ass?")
Patience ("If we do not have a functioning bathroom by 4pm I am leaving you.")

Love ("It's a good thing I love you so much otherwise I would NEVER SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN.")

So here's to my good friends, who have exactly 43 hours and 28 minutes (at the time of this writing) to get their new location completed, in time for their scheduled opening on Monday morning.
No pressure, or anything.

What doesn't kill you (or cause you to kill him) will make you stronger. I promise.

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