I am in the middle of a bathroom remodel. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. To say that I’m in the “middle” of this project could imply that I am about half-way through it, and I am not. Not even close.
We built this house and moved in over 20 years ago. The truth about this bathroom is that I never really finished it. It’s embarrassing, but for 20 years we’ve never had any baseboard trim in that room. The little crack between the bottom of the drywall and the tile collects things. Like Q-Tips that miss the trashcan. Bobbie pins. And those little elastic things that hold hair in a ponytail.
So, now is my chance to correct that. If I was practical, I would simply install the baseboard and be done with it. But it needs painting. The toilet seal was leaking. I took it up to find that the floor under the tile was mushy. Okay, it was completely rotten. So the tile came up and a new subfloor went down. We don’t really like the shower we have. We have a garden tub that has been used 13 times in 20 years. And the sink counter top reminds us of an apartment we had in1982.
“We should just remodel the whole bathroom,” she says.
“Did you win the lottery?” I ask.
She ignores my wit. “I’ve never really liked that tile.”
I counter. “I’ve never really liked being old.”
So, we are remodeling. And by we, I mean “I”. She’s right, though. This needs to be done. Unfortunately, it has been a slow process. I have not been as fully motivated as I should be. But I am growing weary of walking down the hall to the other bathroom to take care of business. My inspiration is gaining momentum.
Some of the plumbing is temporarily plugged off or rerouted. Saws and hammers and chisels are flying. I’ve watched a couple episodes of Remodelholic. This Old House. Rambo. All demonstrate skills that come in handy during the demolition stage.
Projects like this seem overwhelming. In my mind I’m facing the rebuilding of Europe after WWII. In reality it’s about 100 square feet of tile, sheet rock, PVC, plywood and 2x4s. So, I dig in.
There’s just something sweet about what a sledge hammer does to a room. Shards of tile explode around me. Nails that have held the world together moan under pressure. My wife checks on me occasionally to make sure that I’m still alive. The cat is nervous. The sounds of mortar rounds and anti-tank gun fire going off make it hard to know if the house can withstand the attack.
When you take on something like this there are always interruptions that slow you down. This is why I have waited until fall to get serious, so that the yard work is not pressing on me. But fall is also football season. I walk through the living room on my way to get a bigger hammer, and the game is on. I don’t even like the two teams playing, but I pause. Before you know it, I’m sitting. Just a couple more plays. This is interesting. The underdog is beating the pants off the 7-0 Sooners.
“What are you doing?” she says.
“Working on the bathroom.”
“It looks like you’re watching football.”
“I think I tweaked my back. I just need to sit for a few minutes. Maybe until halftime.”
By the time I get down to my shop, I can’t remember what I was after. So I grab a crowbar. I get back to the bathroom and remember I needed a hammer. I walk back through the living room. The game is back on. I hesitate. She glances at me. I keep going.
Remodels are a test of durability and perseverance. In marriage and work ethic. I’m way less than halfway done, and there have already been 14 trips to the hardware store because I am a man and I refuse to write down a list of what I need. I run my ideas about where I’m going with this by my wife, and she nods. I take that as approval. She intends her nod to be understood as I’ll-let-you-know-later-what-you’ve-done-wrong-and-how-I-want-it-fixed.
But progress is being made. There is no toilet, but all the right plumbing is there. There’s a tub on our kitchen porch, which for some reason means we cannot have friends over for supper until it’s gone. And some portion of the bathroom looks like a bomb went off.
I don’t know when this will be over. Perhaps in my lifetime. I am “working” on stuff in my sleep. Taking out the shower stall is next. More trips down the hall. More trips to the store. I think for a moment that I could just move all my things into the other bathroom and take it easy until football season is over. But then I think that I could be living in the tub on the porch.
Oh well. Rome was not built in a day. Neither are bathrooms.