Meleea and I endured the pandemic and the other Tomfoolery by restoring our house. We have redone nearly every surface on our property. After all the remodeling in my career, I have noticed a few transferable principles. One is that structures are living organisms. They are the combined narrative of all the stories of all their parts. Every beam, doorknob, and floorboard was part of something before and came to be a part of its present home by a circuitous route, picking up residue along the way. Their shifting story unfolds when the new structure is first imagined. Every character, problem, and well (or poorly) crafted solution contributes to the story.
Soon after we started restoring the Apiary*, we realized that our 1963 home had endured its own kind of trauma. This changed how we deconstructed - our expectations for the time and complexity of the very varied restoration process, the uselessness of undue frustration, and the interaction of one traumatized part with all the other also traumatized parts. We slowed down and invested in our own healing as we rebuilt. Some parts we replaced with better fitting ones, some we relocated or repurposed, and some that were damaged - we sanded, straightened, and reinforced. Our damaged house became a healing place long before its restoration was complete.
There is a pattern of aliveness and healing in built and organic structures - including people. The generative value of every part shows up with good construction. But sometimes we build and care for our structures poorly. When we recognize change is needed, complete demolition is rarely the solution. Slow, thoughtful, loving restoration hears and honors the stories, reconnects, and strengthens. We only heal when we rebuild collaboratively.
*Our home’s name is the Apiary because we call our partnership “Honey Bee.” Sweet but stings.
I write in a geeky, sciency, hopefully poetic way about belonging, storytelling, community building, deconstruction and construction,