Most dinner parties are interesting but some, of course, are more interesting than others. We attended a lovely dinner the other night and it was very, very interesting. To be fair, the hostess had an edge on the hospitality challenge. No one had been to a dinner party in over a year. Isolation can lubricate comradery.
This event got ‘interest’ points right from the start because we had all forgotten how to have polite-but-fun discourse with others. One has to exercise their inner Oscar Wilde to stay hip, you know? This dinner-party experience felt kinda new. I was rusty*. He and she got extra points for good food that we didn’t have to cook, too. And, for me, super bonus points were immediately earned because I did not have to do the dishes. Add in good wine and great company and it was a fabulous evening.
(*Rust seems to be forming in my ears. My hearing is 50% what it used to be.)
But all that, as interesting as it was, paled against the beautiful presence of their new home on the island. It was just perfect. I would estimate that the square footage was around 2000-2200 sft. Two stories. Fabulous views through huge windows. Perfect location. Lovely setting. And all brand, spanking new.
The construction style was also perfect. Local ‘look’, exposed beams from wood milled on site, funky touches here and there and an artsy-crafty eccentric kitchen ‘decor’. R&B not only did a great job they also manifested great taste and personal style. It really is a huge success.
But I am not here to write an article for Better Homes and Cottages (theirs definitely qualifies). I am here to write about deeper issues. And this issue is about timing, undertakings, personal commitment and effort. This blog is about, learning, growing, stretching yourself. This topic is about change, transition, retirement, community and taking a risk. They did all that, too. And they started in their 50’s.
As we stood there surveying their ’empire’ (a mix of new, beautiful buildings, with saved and reinforced ‘heritage’ buildings from the past), B said, “You were right. Building is hard work. I do not think I could do that again.”
B was an accountant. R was an engineer. They knew how to work. They knew physical, being avid skiers. They were in good nick, healthy, strong, capable. Three or four years in the doing and maybe one year living in the completed home, B said, “I still feel stiff and sore getting out of bed.”
Sal said that same sort of thing 14 years ago, “It has been over eighteen months since we completed the house and my hands still hurt!”
R&B are now nudging 60. They did their ‘building thing’ in their fifties. Like Sal and I. And like Sal and I, they went from being ‘softer’ to working physically much, much harder than they imagined. They went from urban comforts and conveniences to learning how to make it all work even if that meant jerry-rigging up water systems to get a shower. They reminisced about lifting heavy beams, pouring cement, clearing away garbage, finishing the interior and, of course, milling their own lumber. These two did the OTG thing and they did it very well.
Of course we traded a few old saws about, “I do not think I could ever go back to living in the city.” “Our urban friends don’t really understand this move.” “Don’t ya just hate town day!” We shared marveling at the natural beauty every day. We laughed about the eccentric community that we had all joined. And we shared plans for more improvements to the empire. Their project definitely isn’t over.
Our project isn’t over yet, either. We still have things to do. And we have things that need fixing, maintaining and replacing. First you get the empire and then you have to keep the empire. OTG work is never done.
So, what is the point, Dave? R&B are NOT the generation behind us. We are just at the older end of the same generation. But, still, it felt a bit like watching renewal to me. Kindred spirits. It felt a bit like seeing the next generation even if they are technically NOT next gen. There was a lot of empathy for each other despite being relatively recent friends. I had walked in their boots. They had walked in mine. And all of our feet still ached.