Friday, July 29, 2011

Lifetime Polishing Up


My lifetime is piling up. And even paradise fades with time. When the family says it's time to go, when the things we put on hold just can't wait anymore, when we finally have had enough of each other, we pack up and leave.

This morning I sat on the front steps taking in a few rays of light. I sipped from my favorite mug here. It is a mug with the periodic table of elements on it and an index on the other side. I looked at the rings on the inside edge of the mug, each one signifying a point of time in the past. I grabbed the brass fastener out of the bucket. I started cleaning it and polishing it.

My dad has been obsessing about a few things: paddle-boards, kite-surfing, paint, leftover pancakes, and the old British Seagull outboard motor. We have been restoring it slowly. The biggest part of the restoration process has been stripping the brass parts of paint and oxidization and polishing it back up. The gas tank is brass and I have spent a ton of time cleaning it, polishing it, and making it look good. It takes a ton of elbow grease.

My hands have been dark green from applying polish. I found my hands shaking last night after polishing. The motor looked good. A few pieces and it would be done—well, mostly. I took a break from polishing and looked at the piece. It was already shinier.

The last car was packing up. Phyllis, Andrew, George, and Louie were getting all their stuff together. Jackets, bags, shoes, and sleeping pads were piled by the car.

Packing is part of the process. The last day is one where all the toys are packed up and the house is put into hibernation to await its next visitor. They were leaving, but I wasn't.

I took a break from the motor and went upstairs. My dad was starting the painting process for the yellow room. It was going to be tough work to put down a layer of yellow. I grabbed a roller and laid down the paint on the wall. Three long strokes and yellow appeared on the wall. The job would be long and hard but it would happen. I finally finished painting with my dad and sister. It looked good. But I was exhausted. It takes so much energy to paint a room even with help. But it was done.

I returned downstairs to the motor. It was close but needed a stand. My dad was touching up the porch. I continued fixing the motor. When it was almost done, we started building a stand for it. There was only a little time left to work yet we sanded out and made beautiful a makeshift stand.

The list of jobs for the house when I got here was enormous. Two pages of notes, each line constituting something that needed to get done. I had chopped down endless blackberry bushes, fixed small things, cleaned surfaces, and generally trudged along. It was job after job. A labor of love. The house exists because we work so hard to love it.

The list now was mostly struck through. Almost nothing needed doing. At least for this time. I looked over my accomplishments. This list was like many lists before it, and I had contributed to the completion of many for years. These lists don't even scratch the surface of things I have done in my life. What is a resume but the most condensed version of achievements in one's life. I am accomplished and I can't wait to see how my lifetime has piled up.