The whir of the sander causes a stray dust bunny to dance in circles in front of me.
As my uncle sands away with a power tool, I go at another stair by hand with a coarse grade paper. Today we are stripping away the varnish from my mother’s staircase. A staircase filled with my childhood memories.
This staircase is where I played ball as a little boy. As an only child that meant tossing the ball up the stairs and gleefully waiting for the ball to bounce back into my arms. I would’ve been about 3 years old.
At the top of the stairs and to the right lies my old bedroom. And prior to that, by the railing, a grill about 3 feet by 1 foot covers a vent. It’s where I used to hide my most prized toys. Dinky cars mostly. I would’ve been about 5 then.
I smile to myself at these recollections.
My hair is coated in a fine dust. My clothes are spotted and smeared with primer and paint. We’ve been working together for a few weeks now. First the living room. Then the dining room. The kitchen and hallway followed. Room by room and now floor by floor my boyhood home is being remade. Stripped down of its previous veneer and given a new identity.
I’m enjoying the process. Not just the gratification of creation. But also being able to help my mother and work alongside my uncle whose tutelage and patience have been invaluable. We grew up together. But with an 8 year age gap it is only now that we are really getting to know each other.
It’s funny how life is. How we can grow and change. For the better if we choose.
And that is what I choose.
Until very recently people didn’t think I’d be doing this kind of work. I guess I never gave off the impression of someone who readily wields crowbars and hammers.
Until very recently I allowed myself to live a life largely separate from my family. I guess I needed time to let old wounds heal so new relationships could take form. I didn’t think I’d enjoy spending time with my family. But I do.
As I walk through the rooms of my childhood I’m realizing that this old home isn’t the only thing being remade.
I am too.