Thursday, May 03, 2007

A New Chapter

Last night I finished cleaning out our old apartment. We lived there for just over three and a half years. It's funny how when a family lives in a home long enough they sort of leave a history in the place. Like sediment, relics of the past settle into the cracks, crevices, and all those places you never clean. (Well, that I never clean.) When you move you have to dig down into all those dark places and unearth these artifacts like an archeologist. This little anthropology expedition reminded me of how far God has brought me over these past several years.

As I uncovered the wall behind my bed I saw the stars drawn in marker that I vainly attempted to wash off. And I remembered my little, nervous sons cuddling up with me to sleep because they were too scared of sleep in the living room. They were like little sweaty heaters pressed up against me all night thrashing around like angry alligators. When we moved here they were… let's see… I think around 4 and 7. The poor little guys had seen and heard some awful things and I couldn't bear to force them to sleep by themselves.

When I was cleaning out the cupboards above the stove I found the keys to the doorknobs I had installed on my bedroom door. When I first moved here I decided I needed a safe place to put my valuables when Stacie came over, so I put a knob with a lock in it on my bedroom door. We were still technically married and Stacie had sold several of my valuables without my knowledge. I was still hoping to ride out the roughness and keep our marriage together, but I really needed my laptop for work and didn't want my CD collection to disappear. As her visits grew fewer and farther between I didn't need to lock my door anymore and the keys sank away into oblivion along with any hope that the marriage would live again.

As I adventured even further down, back in the darkest recesses of the apartment, behind the dryer, I bravely battled the accumulated dust and lint captured in a dozen socks, a pile of Yu-Gee-Oh cards, and some old, broken action figures. There I swept up a couple of bits of steel wool. That was a jarring reminder. It took me back to our home in Michigan when I first found the stuff stashed away in a sock with a strange white rock and a burnt ballpoint pen casing. I did some research and found out the steel wool supports the crack rock in the tube while it's being smoked. Ever since then, every time I see steel wool I am taken back to that sickening realization I had that my wife was not just a party animal, but a crack addict.

I was cleaning the stove and thought about how we just bought a new stove for our new condo. That sort of thing was pretty much unthinkable in my previous marriage. We could never save. We were always in debt. Even when we filed for bankruptcy we ended up in debt. I remember always trying to find a way to work savings into our budget. But the last couple years in Michigan we would always have a negative balance in our checking account. Often upwards of $800. Stacie would float checks constantly, for everything. I remember one month we paid almost $500 in check bouncing fees alone. I would try to explain to her that we had to be frugal and carefully watch our money. Talking about it never helped.

Now my wonderful, responsible wife and I have just spent about $10,000 on this move and home purchase. That is amazing to me! Not because it's a lot of money, but because we HAD more than that much money saved up. I could never have even dreamed of scraping together $100 dollars back then. But now that God has given me a woman of integrity and forethought we can save. All that horrendous stress of not knowing how we were going to ward off the electric company until payday so we won't get out power turned off, or phone, or buy food… it's gone. That was such a huge psychological burden.

Later I spent about an hour washing wall-texture off the back porch screen, doors, wall, etc. Why did I have wall-texture all over? Because I was spraying it all over a life-sized paper Mache tree I was building as a backdrop for my wedding. I wanted a bit more visual noise on the surface so I sprayed it with that stuff you put on walls to give it texture. Unfortunately I ended up spattering it all over the porch as well. Fortunately, it washes up with water. But it still took a long time to scrub it off. I thought about how hard I worked to make sure this wedding would be perfect and that it was meant to be. Both very difficult to do with the short amount of time we assigned to the tasks. But it has all turned out better than I could have imagined.

So as I cleaned I contemplated. I thought about the state I was in when I moved in, and state I'm in now as I'm moving out. The gratitude and joy I felt as a result of this is really inexpressible. As I was locking up for the last time I said a prayer of thanks, and asked that God would bless the next tenants. I felt like I was turning the final page in this chapter of my life. It sure was an exciting one. But I must say: I'm really looking forward to closing this chapter and moving onto the rest of the book.

When we moved into our new condo last Saturday I gathered the family together and we prayed over our new home. I anointed all the doors. (The boys thought this was great and had to do it too. Lot's of oily fingerprints around now.) We prayed that each room would contain God's peace and love, and that we would grow closer as a family. Now we have a million boxes to unpack. I'm hoping I can find room for everything. I have SO much art stuff.

Speaking of art, I am so pathetically predictable. Remember the last entry where I said I was going to exercise restraint and NOT paint my brother's room? Well I lied. Not really. I actually, truly meant not to do it. But once I got the first layer of trees up on the kid's room, I had all the brushes out, and I couldn't apply the next layer until that one was dry. So I figured between coats I would just do John's room. Of course the work ended up being way more elaborate that I thought it would be and I spent way to much time on that detail of the house, leaving more important things till later in the week. I took the whole week off and still ended up pulling almost two all-nighters on Thursday and Friday before the move. And I still didn't get everything done! Most of the molding still needs to be sealed and painted. And a bunch of paint touch ups as well.

Speaking of paint, one of the things I did get done was painting our kitchen and some of the walls of my art 'room' blood red. I love it. It's my favorite part of the house. I had just got Virgin Black's (The best band in the universe) latest album (Requiem ~ Mezzo Forte) and was listening to it for the first time while I painted. It was a magical experience. Late at night, alone, surrounded by blood red, hearing the most passionate, profound, and powerful music I've heard to date. I let the music guide my brushstrokes speed, intensity and direction. So now I have a wall that will remind me of the beauty of the first experience I had with that music. It served as a canvass of interpretive expression. It really makes me want to dive back into my sculpture based on a Virgin Black song-set.

Speaking of Virgin Black, I told Samantha (The guitarist/songwriter) via email that I would give her a sculpture if they were able to come through town on their next tour. She said she might take me up on that. They just released info that they are going to be doing a pretty extensive tour of North America, and it seems likely Seattle will be one of their stops. That makes me very, very happy. I've never seen them live and can't wait to meet the band.

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