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Susan Page

Adventures In Renovation

As I pushed my orange cart down the light bulb aisle at the Pearl City Home Depot, I looked into the eyes of a woman coming toward me pushing her own orange cart. They were hollow, glassy, confused. They darted from one kind of bulb to another: fluorescent, halogen, compact fluorescent, LED, incandescent, expensive.

Her shoulders slumped as though they wore an 18-pound bag of joint compound. Her shoes were powdery white – dry wall white.

I recognized the look. Was it drugs, cocaine maybe? No, of course, she, too, is remodeling her house. I looked down at my now-white slippers and saw that my toes also were dusty white.

This woman is a sister in the bond – or rather “Bondo,” I thought.

Like me, she’s likely prowling this aisle for the third time today. I’m sure I’ll run into her at Lowe’s and City Mill later on. I daydreamed that she and I could be friends if only we had time to stop and chat. We could share contractor stories, paint samples and tales of tile being out of stock.

But a remodeler has no time and, as it turns out, no mental capacity for conversation. For me, that disappeared on the first day when the contractor, site manager, cabinetmaker, electrician and plumber had a summit meeting with me in our small, semi-demolished bathroom. They peppered me with questions about shower glass, fixtures, tile, shower valves, vanity size, a “pony” wall (or not), mirrors, lighting placement, medicine cabinets and the toilet, which I would’ve thrown up in had it been closer.

From that moment on, I’ve not been able to say the correct word for common things such as “door” and “paint.” Fortunately, my husband, Jerry, understands and only asks that I point at the object I’m talking about to help him decode my newly acquired vocabulary disorder.

Once the project is complete, I hope to regain full fluency in English.

I think I forgot to mention a little-advertised renovation fact: Sawing through concrete block is hazardous to your hair. An undetectable fine dust is produced when a saw blade continuously grinds into concrete for three straight days. Miraculously, it can travel all the way upstairs into your bedroom onto your pillow. When you awaken, much to your horror, a Martha Washington wig has covered your head, which is frightening at 7 a.m. Shampooing barely helps.

If only I watched HGTV, I’m sure this remodel would be over in a few one-hour episodes, and I’d be sipping a glass of Pinot Noir instead of staring blankly at a bank of showerheads as if one would eventually call out my name in a sexy French accent. “Susan, pick me, s’il vous plaît. I weel wash out cement dust.”

But on a positive note, during this adventure in renovation, I’ve met many friendly and helpful tile, fixture, glass and lighting salespeople in Kakaako, Mapunapuna, on Dillingham in Kalihi and in Waipahu – across our island. I’ve learned to pick out paint for a large bedroom wall from a 1-inch square of colored paper and understand that sometimes you have to pay someone to repaint that paint choice.

I’ve also learned to live in a cluttered mess.

According to the contractor, our remodel will be finished in a few weeks. He also swears the moon landing was fake and dry wall dust vacuums right up.

Lady with the orange cart and tired eyes, if you’re out there, let’s meet for a hot dog at “The Depot.”

susanpagecoffee@gmail.com

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