There’s a new beam in my house where a wall used to be.
Every single aspect of normal life is cancelled right now, and yet somehow we were still able to move forward with our remodel. We spent months asking questions – Is planning a remodel while planning a wedding a good idea? (NO) Is this a smart use of our savings account? (…hopefully?) Will we maybe hate each other more than we ever thought possible over the placement of a kitchen island? (Surprisingly, yes) – but the question we never thought to ask? Will there be a pandemic this spring?
Months of planning and months of dreaming. Months of stressful conversations and Google searches teaching us how little we know about construction and fights more due to us being tired than us actually disagreeing. Months & months – then a pandemic came and made time irrelevant but somehow, someway, we got papers signed and workers hired and all of a sudden I had a weekend to pack up a house.
We’re embracing the open floorplan concept because we are young and hip and cool and trendy …and because the house had the weirdest half wall you could ever imagine. 99.9% of people, when first walking in my front door, would comment on said wall. It was that alarmingly, glaringly jarring. RJ, on our third date, walked into my house for the first time and told me he would knock it down. I replied with something sassy like “Welcome to my house, do I know you?”
I guess that joke’s on me now, as he has officially knocked it down.
We’re picking out paint colors instead of stressing over wedding colors, debating kitchen sinks instead of center pieces. If I’m being honest, it’s too painful to think about plans for a July wedding that may or may not come to be, so I’d rather stress myself silly with the amount of outlets for the kitchen. I never knew how all encompassing a remodel is. I didn’t realize 80% of your conversations will suddenly be about tones and while scrolling through Instagram you’ll notice the shade of someone’s floors. Hmmm… interesting. Brown with gray tones AND a hint of yellow. 50 little decisions, all day long. 50 little costs, all adding up. 50 little things we have to figure out together, as we build our new together.
I keep thinking of the house warming party we will one day throw. The oohs and ahhs (most loudly from friends who have seen The Wall), the shock at how different things will look. Friends will see the new flooring and the fresh paint, but who will know the hours we spent choosing a shade of green? Or about the vanity we finally decided on, only to have Lowes cancel our order a week later? Will anyone know about the weekend I spent packing boxes, carrying things into the garage until my legs gave out?
And I think about our wedding. Friends will see my white dress, RJ’s new shiny ring. We’ll eat tacos at sunset and I’ll smash cake into my handsome husband’s face and we’ll dance with our very best friends – but will anyone know about the months of work leading up to these moments? Not spent Pinterest pinning or stamping envelopes or ticking things off our Zola to-do list – but the marriage preparing.
A little of him and a little of me and a whole lot of new – that’s been our plan for the remodel, for our house. That’s the plan for our marriage, too. Just as I spent a weekend packing boxes, clearing out the old and making room for the work to be done – we’ve spent months packing up parts of our lives. We’ve sifted through what parts work and what parts don’t. What should stay and what should go. What worked for us, separately, before – but won’t work for us, together, now.
I stare at this new beam and realize engagement and the remodel feel surprisingly similar. The decisions, where we hope we made the right choices. The planning, where we prepared as much as we thought we possibly could. The packing. So much packing. So much of our old normal, packed up into boxes, now on garage shelves or sent off to Goodwill.
But mostly? The behind the scenes. No one else saw the strange gray tile we found at the very bottom layer of the floor, just like no one else witnessed the rock bottom moments we’ve hit. No one else will remember cords peaking out of the ceiling like strange robot spiders, just like no one else will recall the raw edges we had – snagging on each other again & again until we learned to rewire something deeper inside. No one else will have felt the sweat of our hard work or the exhaustion of holding back another round of tears or the ache in our bones from long days being followed by even longer nights.
July continues to approach, and I don’t know if we’ll get to have a wedding. It’s very up in the air at the moment and in the hands of Big Rona (as we’ve been referring to the pandemic that has put so much of life on hold). But I know this: I get to marry RJ. And when I think of our marriage, not our wedding, I think of this big, beautiful empty room that’s in process. The white walls and the wood floors. The green loveseat we bought for both our wedding and our home. The plants that he’ll be in charge of keeping alive and the quotes on the wall that I’ll be forever changing. The books I’ll read while laying on the couch and the albums he’ll force me to listen to. The warmth of the sunshine from our new skylights. The thousands of memories, big and small, we will create.
I stand in an empty house, covered in dust and tools and holes in the wall, and I think of everything I cleared away, all the work we did, to make space. I stand in the empty room, and the wall is gone. The wall that used to hold so much. The wall that we worked so hard to get rid of. There’s a new beam now. We built a new beam, a new support system, a new way of life. Together.
if years from now
I’ll sit in my living room
and think of the boxes
if I’ll think of the wall
that once was,
the packing that had to be done
to make room for this room
when I look back on our wedding
if I’ll think of all of the me
I got rid of for the sake of us
if I’ll remember the months