The dishwasher was broken. The fridge door couldn’t be replaced. The stove hummed, off key. I’d always wanted a fabulous kitchen. And so, the renovation began mid August and was due to wrap up in the last week of September. Perfect. I would put my kitchen back together, and cook all weekend to have the family for my traditional Rosh Hashana lunch. The best laid plans. It’s December. Still renovating my kitchen.
Full disclosure. We did add a few things. Now it’s more like a main floor renovation. I kinda feel like the kitchen is on the back burner. “Wouldn’t it be great if we moved the closet…” Then the window turned into a door. The doorways got wider and higher… It will all be beautiful. Eventually. It’s the dream kitchen that wasn’t even in my dreams. Ideas are glorious, and when renovating… dangerous and expensive. But once you see the space opening up it’s like a treasure box of possibilities!
On the flip side, I’m asking myself why am I doing this? A lot of my friends are looking at condos downtown. I’m at least ten years too late… clearly a renovation late bloomer. I could have taken a trip around the world instead of a new kitchen. Now, though, I fear that my travel dreams are on simmer.
The renovation is all consuming. It keeps me up at night. I wake up long before dawn frustrated that the work seems to be ambling at a snail’s pace. I send myself e-mails with lists of all the things that still need to be done. My nightly Reno–notes.
Here I am, in the third act of my life. I will finally have state of the art appliances and gorgeous countertops, cupboards that close, and floors that match. Truth be told, I’m not so sure I care about it all anymore, least of all cooking! In the interlude of main floor living, I’ve discovered the joy of poached salmon from The Avenue Fish Shop, the salad bar at Whole Foods and desserts from Phipps. And, I’ve learned that there are no medals for standing all day and cooking it all from scratch. I have a new appreciation for foods I do not have to cook. Perhaps they will taste even better when plated in my ‘transitional’ kitchen, and served atop those natural quartz countertops that I fell hard in love with. Love, as it turns out, does come with a price…
There are now small glimpses of completion, like carrots dangling before that proverbial rabbit. I can imagine the day when I will have my main floor back, curtains, sofas, chairs and tables…and will have finished washing every dish I own, every knife, fork, spoon, and putting it back in my cupboards and in those lovely drawers with custom dividers – organized, arranged and gleaming. At which point, I’m pretty sure, I will not want to use any of them – just admire their pageantry!
I must say, lately I’ve been contemplating – what do we really need? Living in the basement with those few essentials for the past four months has been a lesson in simple living. I don’t want any more stuff! Just those few perfect accompaniments. I want to refine all aspects of my life. It’s remarkably similar to the process of editing my novel. Instead I’m editing my space, wardrobe, thoughts, and dreams – Asking myself what is necessary, what makes sense to my personal story; an economy of the stuff of which I fill my life garnered to lay out like the perfect sentence, each element as each word, deliberated and chosen.
It all started in the kitchen, the heart of our home and our soul. We learn about what we need, and the essentials of our living from our kitchen. After all, the perfect omelet has very few ingredients. Fresh farm eggs, real butter, perhaps a hint of sharp cheese, a pinch of salt, a toss of chopped basil, a good quality whisk and a sturdy frying pan. And what do we need to savour it but a table, a chair, a window, and a beautiful plate or two, and those we love.