As a young girl growing up in Brooklyn I craved space. How else to explain my taking up residence in the Loew’s Kings ladies’ room during movie intermissions? It had a plush sitting room where I could pretend I was holding court before (or after) going into the bathroom proper. Then there was the furniture department of Macy’s, down the street from our family candy store. I would wander over there, settle myself in any of the arranged living room settings. It was the cusp of the ‘60s, a time of social upheaval, yes, but the world clearly felt safe enough for a mother to give this kind of license to a ten-year-old.
An entire past comes to dwell in a new house, I wrote in a previous piece that touched on the places my imagination took me as a writer-in-the-making longing for a room of her own. Today I have that, and much more. And I still marvel at how any change, even for the better, is tinged with something gone.
My house, a veritable work-in-progress, is no longer new, but every phase of renovation brings a new way of being in it. This time—I could shout at last!—it’s a kitchen upgrade. The kitchen always had its charm—colorful cabinets, a floor like none other, which had messages (some coded) cleverly laid in decals by my husband. There’s history in these floors and walls of the warm home our house became.
But modernization and efficiency in storage were in order. Exciting, yes, to envision, even if it feels overwhelming: clearing out the kitchen, organizing the contents of drawers and cabinets into boxes for some semblance of easy access. It’s the little things—not wrapping each and every coffee mug in newspaper—that keep the ache at bay; we’re not moving out, we’re just moving things to another room.
In the interest of change, I’m experimenting with a little blog music more regularly. Click on the audio widget (upper right) and enjoy what you hear while considering ten things to remember when you renovate a kitchen:
- It’s temporary.
- You will cry as you pack boxes to put into your dining room and living room and wherever you can make them fit, and think about all that has taken place in the kitchen as it was.
- You will feel disoriented. Which cardboard box did I put the boxes of pasta into? Where are my mixing spoons?
- You will walk back and forth a lot, in need of things—a towel, a fork, a knife and cutting board—not within immediate reach.
- You will remind yourself of the privilege that is your life and makes this upgrade a possibility—then take a step back to consider that, for too many people, this is not even an option.
- You will suddenly remember how well you managed in that ridiculously tiny kitchen in your studio apartment, back when.
- You will cry.
- You may even curse.
- You will be distracted from rituals and routines that require your focus: writing, reading, yoga, meditation.
- If you’re lucky, you may even welcome the disorientation for whatever new insights it brings.
- And when all is said and done, you’ll marvel at something that seemed to take so long becomes another thing completely in an instant.
So here you have it—a glimpse of what was/what is/what will be my spiffy, new kitchen.
The best (photo), I might add, is yet to come.