Kevin and I aren’t the sentimental kind – our wedding bands were bought last minute off of Amazon for 99 cents. Kevin doesn’t buy me flowers, never surprises me with fancy dinner dates, and definitely does not buy me expensive jewelry, and I like it that way. My sort of sensibility builds houses, handmade furniture, and long arduous team building style adventure vacations. Our best moments are the working through the shit to find a diamond times, the tearing apart and then rebuilding of something together.
We first met six years ago in New York – I was fed up, in all the way that people living in New York get fed up. I had gone to Vermont that summer and spent time in a magical gnome house that had been built in stages, over years and expansive life stories, I wanted those kind of layers. Three months later, I met Kevin. He stayed at my house the first night and then helped me move into my new apartment (with five other friends) the next day, he never left. Kevin and I like to move fast. And so in our fashion we moved through living together, through extended travels together, to being engaged together (which lasted 5 years), to within a year buying a house together.
We bought our house through the bank, a foreclosure of a previous owner, who rented to section 8 tenants. But in the end really from Laura, the keeper of the house, for the previous 20 years. She was over 65, African American, Section 8, and slightly disabled (most likely from the black mold that inhabited the lovely shit hole we were about to buy). She was also known to keep an ax by the door to chase people away. In the beginning it was always really about Laura, her decision to sell and her desires, and so began my months in helping her find a new place slash being the bearer of all she desired. Medications, Oakland funerals, many many potential apartment visits, with lots of Smirnoff Ice with an added twist of “White girl, you like my daughter”. It was fun, a little bit weird, and the beginning of our adventure. Laura just died a few months ago, God bless her soul.
Once Laura was settled, so there began our years of little by little. It was demo nights and my clean up dump days, which turned into camping in the yardweeks to camping in the house months, then on to the air mattress in the living room era and finally to completely unfinished but livable rooms. The years accented by baby chicks in unfinished bedrooms, finding three legged kittens in the streets, and little James (our favorite neighbor) wandering the wreckage and teaching us how to dance The Jerk. There were also days of exploding toilets where poop flowed from the ground and finding ourselves and some really awesome friends scooping bucket loads in the rain. Plumbers are really expensive.
Kevin and I aren’t the kind to enumerate our accomplishments, and in the end I wish I had documented more, because, some days I am really proud of us. We have dry walled, plumbed, scraped, cleaned, nailed, tiled, built our way to, not the top, but up enough to see a pretty good view and (through the help of some great friends and one awesome electrician) have been able to create something that is not close to perfect but has become a reflection of us, our abilities, and some sort of sum of our love.
I wanted to post some pictures of the past few years because I never have and we are about to begin the next stage of our process. The Lift. Which will be documented and spoken about at further length in the future. So here it is, the beginning, the asbestos and the dust and beautiful reclaimed hardwoods and the mess and the mold and all the things that have pulled me away from internet world and into the us.