Op/Ed

Jessie Raymond: Home improvements test one’s will

Two weeks ago, I was complaining that the early stages of our kitchen renovation had left me disoriented. I was certain I’d never face a bigger upheaval than the silverware being moved to a different drawer.
A lot has happened since then.
Happily, the renovation has progressed, but it has required that much of our old kitchen be farmed out to the far reaches of the house.
Goodbye, trusty work triangle; my cooking path is now an irregular polygon that I measure in yards rather than feet.
A bit of normalcy remains: The old kitchen range and surrounding island haven’t gone anywhere yet, and Mark moved the sink, re-plumbing it next to the island for now.
But the dishes are stacked in the living room at one end of the house; at the other end, nonperishables sit in the pantry where they belong, cramped by way too many other items that don’t. And, in a fun twist, the fridge looms like a monolith in the center of our home office.
This new setup turns something as simple as making a cup of coffee into a daily hike. I go from the kitchen to the living room for a mug, then head back through the kitchen to the pantry to pour the coffee, then backtrack to the office for the half-and-half, and finally return to the kitchen for a spoon. (When I want to save time, I just walk into town and buy my coffee instead.)
Sure, I could have set up the temporary kitchen more efficiently. But it all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to optimally plan my workflow.
If you’re thinking I should do that now, however, you’re wrong. For two reasons.
First, I’ve finally reached the point where I can find the silverware on the first or second try. I can’t handle relearning that — or the rest of the layout — this late in the process. Even if I found a way to keep all the coffee stuff in the same place, for instance, I’d still be legging it from one end of the house to the other every morning, trying to remember where the mugs live now.
I guess new habits die hard, too.
Second, the walking is doing me good. Just getting a bowl of cereal amounts to a nice pre-breakfast stroll. And if I prepare a full roast chicken dinner with all the fixings, I can get in a few miles — even more when I forget where I put the thyme.
You might think all this disruption would be getting to me. But now that the new kitchen is taking shape, I’m embracing it. Every day is filled with something new, whether that’s seeing the sheetrock go up or discovering that I do have soy sauce after all (though why I put it in the upstairs bathroom is anyone’s guess).
“As long as I’ve got good hiking shoes,” I said last week, “I can keep this up for months.”
I didn’t think of what the near future might hold.
The other day, 18 boxes of hardwood flooring arrived. They’re now stacked in a corner of the kitchen getting “acclimated” to the new space — something I can relate to.
Last night I caught Mark looking from the old floors to the boxes of new flooring to the blank cabinet wall to the old island to the future location of the new island.
After a long silence, he said it wouldn’t be long before he put down the new floors and installed the cabinets.
I nodded, smiling. “Can’t wait!” I said.
But, he explained, the old island, range and sink would have to come out to make way for the new floor, and then, after the cabinets were installed, the new counters would take a couple of weeks to be fabricated.
“Great!” I said, clapping with joy. (Sometimes I take a while to catch on.)
He waited.
Finally, when several seconds passed and he still hadn’t returned my high five, I began to put it all together.
“Wait,” I said, my words slowed by a sudden sense of impending doom. “Are you saying that soon there may be a period — several weeks, probably — when we’ll have no working sink or stove at all?”
He touched a finger to the tip of his nose.
As the room began to spin around me, I recalled how just last month I was sure that moving the silverware drawer three feet would do me in.
“How adorable,” I thought, before everything went dark.

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