So I started my quest to find an available, qualified contractor and shortly settled on X. X was personable, highly skilled, and although he was a builder of the male persuasion (it sometimes being problematic for single women to feel respected by male “experts”), I was thrilled to discover that X’s right-hand “man” was a young woman with progressive politics. Let the demolition begin!
My daughter and I –and the cat--moved out, along with all of our household possessions, leaving the shell of the house to be dismantled in the various ways that would enable eventual re-assembly into a more workable, better-insulated home. So far, so good. We began a quarter year of sheltering with friends, house-sitting, and traveling both near and far. What began as novelty –the “staycation” aspect of remaining in town but not living at home—quickly wore thin, and the initially attractive notion of spending a month with family on the east coast eventually gave way to reminders of why I had moved to Alaska in the first place.
Through it all, our contractor worked hard to deliver an attractive, well-insulated, bright improvement on our former home. He was so attentive to details, in fact, so courteous, competent, (and clean, thrifty, brave, etc.) that I, a lesbian, began to question my sexual orientation. This was the heaven phase of the building project.
Now we approach fall equinox, and I am sorry to say, dear reader, that although we have re-inhabited our house, the job remains unfinished. I have fallen out of love with my builder, who decided to go hunting two weeks ago without telling us. I have just learned that, in the absence of getting his moose, he has extended his hunt, and I can only guess when our renovation might finally be completed. Admittedly, this is what my friend Sally calls a “first-world” problem, not to be blown out of proportion, but I now have insight into why, when I excitedly told a colleague last May that we had embarked on a home remodel, she took hold of my arm, looked me in the eye, and said, “I’m so sorry.”
Mei Mei Evans is the author of the novel Oil and Water, published by the University of Alaska Press. She is associate professor at Alaska Pacific University and lives in Anchorage. She was a public information officer for Homer, Alaska, during the Exxon Valdez oil spill.