Stress cracks. It’s the perfect term for what happens to aging walls. It also applies to relationships as they progress. But cracks in the wall are easy to fix. Not so with cracks in a relationship. These are harder to detect; covered by layers of old repairs. They have become like scar tissue — protective and almost impossible to remove.
For the past few years my boyfriend and I have been working on a fixer-upper. With each project we find another stress crack both in the old walls of our home and in ourselves. On the hard projects, such as the kitchen remodel, these fissures are easily visible. But it’s on the smaller jobs, the ones that seem easy, where the cracks become harder to pinpoint and repair.
I quickly learned that in construction things have to get worse before they get better. There is a point in every project that brings on a sinking feeling, that moment when everything is in utter chaos. But from the point on, the only way to go is up. Still, it’s always hard to believe that 90 percent of our effort goes into things that no one will ever see – digging out cracks, opening up walls, replacing rotted wood and replacing in wiring.
Finally, once a room is stripped of all its dignity, the process of beautification can begin — plastering, installing dry wall, filling cracks, sanding. At this point, things always move faster than I think prudent. “Shouldn’t we wait 24 hours for the primer to dry?” No need. “Can’t we stop and go out to lunch?” A quick sandwich is fine. Let’s use the daylight. And he’s right. We only have two days a week to get a staggering amount of work done. Time is not on our side.
Being under construction is a confrontational process and calls upon every bit of mental and physical strength and endurance we have. But at the end of the day, the effort we put in directly correlates to the results we achieve. Along the way we confront one another and just as with the cracks in a wall, we can’t just gloss over them. There’s work to be done here too. We have to examine the parts of ourselves and our relationship that aren’t so pretty, creating chaos as we go in order to get to the root of the problem until we reach the end goal — a strong relationship with one another and a beautiful environment that sustains and nourishes us.
Far above: The chaos of our most recent project — the master bedroom. These were stairs which we demo’d and rebuilt — just one small component of a larger undertaking. The final project is almost done!!
Directly above: Last year’s project: the kitchen. From under construction to completion.
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