Sunday, January 27, 2008

Day Twenty: January 2008

Day Twenty: Sunday, January 27

It wasn’t cold today. It wasn’t raining. Nice. We slept in, ate powdered eggs and artificial bacon and got to Rosie’s by 9:00. Most of us went to mass with her, while others got the jobs going for the day. This was our second-to-last workday and we knew that we had a lot of ground to cover. Some ground literally needed to be covered, as we planted grass seed today that we had to protect from the nearby pigeons. Otherwise, we stayed in the middle of things: painting, flooring, sanding, landscaping.

And also, we got sad. Not terribly sad, but we reached the level of sadness that comes with the awareness that this beautiful experience is about to come to an end. We have suffered, there is no doubt about it. We have struggled, we have frozen, we have ached, and we have cried. But when it comes right down to it, we love what has happened here: for us, for Rosie, for this city, and for our collective sense of what comes next.

We wanted a lot of triumphs today, but we only got a couple: we finished the flooring in the second house, and we primed the porch, which has been taunting and torturing us for over a week now. We also painted all of the internal doors, which is a total nightmare of a job. We finished counters and cabinetry, trim, and touchup paint. Everyone disappeared into a little private zone and worked and worked and worked. We each came out at lunchtime to enjoy a rare treat: grilled cheese sandwiches made by Team Team on the stove at Rosie’s. Some of them were made on raisin bread. Mmmmmmm.

We came out of our work zones again when Jerrad showed up with our beloved puppies, now named Rosie and Leo. They have opened their eyes now, making Lindsay Ryberg comment on the fact that the puppies are opening their eyes just as our eyes have been opened to a whole new way of seeing the world.

We also came out in the middle of the afternoon when Linda Bell, Tommy’s mom, showed up with a pile of treats: cupcakes, Gatorade, donuts, seven-layer bars (made by Tommy’s aunt), cinnamon rolls, and lots of other great stuff. Tommy’s sister and her son also came along, having driven over from a conference in Houston to connect with us. It was fun for all of us to show a parent what we’ve done. We think that all of our parents (and friends and loved ones) would get a kick out of dropping by over here. Thanks for the treats, Linda!

At one point in the afternoon, we started to re-assess whether we could complete all the jobs we have planned. After almost abandoning a few of them, we instead decided to kick in and make things happen. We all stayed until 7:00 p.m. today, while some of us stayed until almost 8:30 (having arrived at 9:00 a.m.) to finish the flooring job.

We all went to the Dry Dock tonight (the sweet restaurant close to the ferry stop right by our camp) and sat for a few hours catching up on the day’s events and talking about what it will mean to head back home. We came home tired and giddy, intending to clean the bus thoroughly, but instead standing with each other laughing and telling stories. Bringing down our tents and emptying out the bus is going to be a very difficult experience. It will happen soon. Oh dear. . .

Our hours today total 262; our running total now is 5268.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends

I write here today through bleary eyes on a slippery keyboard. It is not often that a group like yours comes to Habitat for Humanity, which is to say, a group capable of making me hate my job as much as all of you have. I am sorry that I cannot deliver this address extemporaneously, but the spontaneity of my speechifying has been largely illusory, as most of those magniloquent soliloquies were written on index cards the night before, and memorized in the port-o-potty on the day of their elocution. So think of this as an index card. But let not the disingenuousness of my process rob from the sincerity of my message, and let me back up and get to the point; you have made me hate my job.
For the past three and a half weeks, your bus has travelled to different corners of this city, a mobile volcano leaving a path of construction in its wake, erupting floors, trim, siding, shingles, puppies, and drywall under a black cloud of M&Ms and lentils. Nothing that you have touched remains unchanged. During all of this, I have stood behind you like an overzealous father at your high school football game, pacing the sideline, demanding perfection and taking credit for your successes, rationing out approval in small doses so you would never quite feel good enough, ultimately keeping you shivering and cold in the shadow of my accomplishments. At least, that was the idea.
As the sun of Hope rose higher in the sky, my shadow diminished; as it began its descent into the West, that same West whence you came, I saw your shadows loom, and soon enough our positions reversed, and it was I that was enveloped in your darkness. But, much to my surprise, I did not find myself shivering, but in the midst of a warm embrace, one which spanned three and a half weeks. One from which I am not eager to be released. Which brings me, once more, to why you have made me hate my job.
I am reminded of an African dictum that I heard bandied about on the edge of the Sahara during my roamings: Where the cactus rose blooms by the fierce light of the sun, it will wilt in the blue luminescence of the moon. That's a rough translation, but I think the point remains intact. I spent many years there, in the moonlight, so long basking in the solitude of the Road. I was alone for so long I thought maybe there was nothing else out there for me. I even grew to like the lonesome path, as a prisoner does his cell walls. I lived at the fringes of existence- by the whispers carried on the wind, I knew that the townspeople had begun to call me Wild Dog. Having forgotten my Christian name, I took it as my own.
Friends, I have asked you to continue to call me Wild Dog so as to remind me of my feral past. It has been your company that has made such a reminder necessary, that has led me out of the wilderness. For this I am infinitely thankful. But now you are leaving, and I am left on my own, in the dessert, in the cold.

Now that I have gotten all of this unctuousness out of my system, it's time for the Honest Five minutes, right? Right. I hate my job because I am forced to work in close quarters with people who could not possibly hide how remarkable they are. Specifically, you, St. Mary's College of California. You in particular have stayed just long enough for me to realize that I am not content with my life, that there are people out there in the World who I would like to get to know better, who I would like to build my next floor, who I would like to plan my (our) wedding, with whom I would like to trade music and quips. People I'd like to howl with, I suppose. I am sorely disappointed in all of you for staying long enough for me to realize how much I will miss you. You should have left after a few days or a week or something, then I would be able to forget about you. Next week, Lance Armstrong and Governer Jindal will be carrying sawhorses past me and ask, "Zach, where do you want these??" I won't hear them though. I will be standing on my floor system, staring to the West, scanning the horizon for a bus full of my friends.

SO, then, go forth, if you must go, and keep dreaming the dream, being the change you wish to see in the world, dancing like no one is watching, doing one thing each day that scares you, following your bliss, living like you were dying, and all of that other horseshit that nonprofit newsletters, church marquees, and coffee mugs are so taken with. And K.I.T.