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January 2018, vol 13 no 4

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Peter Jastermsky


A few years after we marry, my wife and I buy a row house that has “handyman special” engraved on the doorstep. Maybe you’ve seen this type of house in your neighborhood; it tends to be conspicuous because of its other nickname: fixer-upper. Ok, truthfully, it is A Dump.

the breath
of innocence –
asbestos tile

And like so many decisions we make in life, this house seems like the proverbial good thing at the time.

Since it takes the sellers six months to finally close the sale and release their house to us, we become quite familiar with the mission that awaits us.

chips falling
where they may . . .
lead paint

The long courtship between buyer and house allows us the opportunity to become smitten by the idea of this house. Not to mention the potential of this house.

romancing the hearth
an onion inside
the dream

Trouble is, I’m not a handyman. Even through my father could fix anything, “handy” is apparently not an inheritable trait. But no worries! I decide that I’m going to learn the endless steps to total home renovation.

blood blister
off . . .
by a pinch

Now, I should add here that I’m not the best step-by-step guy; I get bored and glazed-over quickly. I know I need help, fast. Since we own just one book on the secrets of home rehabbing, I go out and get one more. I open those books, with intent. And I read. Study!

door number two
we give each other
another chance

I’m telling you, I think information is going to save me!

into nowhere . . .
a crawlspace
to myself

One Saturday afternoon, my wife decides I should go to the hardware store. Ok, full disclosure: she orders me to go. So I take the list and gladly head out.

brick by brick
a marriage

Less than an hour later I return home to discover that our house smells . . . different. I cannot place the smell. It’s totally unfamiliar.

My wife calls me upstairs to the second floor. Now I start to get concerned.

Sunday demo
the neighbors decide
our faith

One stair step, then the next. The smell now is getting closer. A few seconds later, I reach the top step, and I pause. I take as deep a breath as I can. There, the mystery smell hits me full in the face. And then, for the first time in my life, I walk into a bathroom that has no walls!

gutted and boxed
we avoid
the trashman’s eyes

What happens is this: while I am out at the store, my wife picks up a sledgehammer. And, from this day on, our lives are different.

sudden nostalgia
each room repairs
our memories