The value of being young and stupid

I’m working on putting together a photobook of our work on the Sullivan House. It’s gotten to the point now where I have trouble conveying the energy that’s gone into its restoration when giving a tour. I have all of these photos on Facebook and elsewhere and no way to show them to someone who’s physically in the house. Every tour is different because it depends on what I happen to remember at that moment and what the guest is interested in.

Woodbridge House in Detroit interior

When I look at the original photos of the house, I have trouble recognizing it. It’s overwhelming. Now, on the other side, I can feel & know what everyone else was thinking at the time: I was completely crazy. I feel like I hyper-focused on particular projects that needed to be tackled at a particular time, and managed to hide the full scope from myself.

Self-delusion can be an asset.

We’re approaching 28 months since we bought this place, and 19 months since we moved in. We’ve done some incredible things and the house looks fantastic compared to where it was, both inside and out. But, we still have some pretty massive projects ahead of us:

  • The north side of the house needs restoration.
  • The carriage house & attic windows need tons of work.
  • The floors all need refinishing.
  • All the trim (and 6 doors) needs to be paint stripped & restored.
  • The dining room brick porch needs to be rebuilt.
  • The house roof is already on borrowed time.

And that doesn’t count the dozens of fit-and-finish projects in our future. The office (parlor) alone has four or more I can rattle off: the broken pocket door, the chipped & stuck windows, the poor wall patch job, and the sealed exterior door. I can make a list like that for every room in the house.

But I don’t.

Because the only list that matters is the one for this month. “How much longer?” is a common question to which my answer is typically “Well, this is probably a five-year project sooooo….”. I keep an eye on the overall picture but the eye is squinty and maybe tearing up a little to keep everything looking doable.

A project like this happens at its own speed. I can only wrangle so much from myself and others on a week-to-week basis, and ultimately that’s the factor that controls everything. Can I sling a paintbrush again today, or do I need to recuperate?

This Memorial Day, after a Saturday of painting the carriage house and an all-day Icrontic BBQ yesterday, the answer is: recuperate.

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