I believe that our house is not just a structure or building, but a relationship and expression of intimacy, commitment and solidarity. My husband and I waited much longer than all of our friends to buy our first house. We had planned to move away after I completed graduate school, but changed our minds when the time arrived. Skipping the starter-house, we moved directly to a behemoth carriage house: just the two of us (and 4 cats) in our 4500 square feet of interesting, unique, and exciting space. Plus, a host of financial and engineering nightmares and challenges. Fortunately, my husband is a house renovating machine. He can do anything: electrical, plumbing, woodworking, you name it. His genius and practical abilities are matched by my financial planning and willingness to do whatever it takes to help, no matter how dirty the job. Our friends and family went along with our enthusiastic dreams of impressive remodeling jobs with smiles and grunts of support. [Accompanied by an occasional plea for attention from our constant deluge of house-related weekend tasks.] But I don’t think that they ever really believed our grand dreams were possible until we decided to build the wall or tear out the entire bathroom. House renovation could challenge any relationship with its financial burdens, safety scares (with accompanying visits to the ER!), late night cleanups, and vermin infestations (flying squirrels, if you can believe it!). But, our house has become an expression of intimacy for my husband and me. We have trudged, together, through many jobs that would make lesser couples squirm and run screaming– squirrel poop cleanups, insulation jobs, rotten beams, major landscaping overhauls, mortaring jobs, and the list goes on. Living in a very old house (c.1905), we never know what will be behind the next wall that we dismantle. But, we do know that we will rebuild that wall together and it will be stronger when it is completed. And it will be ours. Our house embraces us. We make our house what it is, but through our renovations, we also create and sustain ourselves. Merle and I may always live in a house of perpetual renovations, but our relationship will persist through the construction, debris, mishaps, and miraculous transformations of form and structure. This is what I believe.
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