Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Style of Community Service

I don't know how coherent I can be at this hour, but as mentioned earlier this month, I am a driven woman. Driven by guilt, yes, but driven nonetheless. I promised myself I would blog or write daily...and it's only Monday and I already had my day off this week. (Tomorrow you will have to trudge on without me; it's a commuting day and I am allowed to be focused on my writer's journal).

It was a full day today (what happened? It was supposed to be a day OFF!). In the past we have spent our MLK Day participating in community service. For several years it was spent painting a school in an impoverished neighborhood in Philadelphia. The first year, I found entering the school a truly startling experience...the school was in better condition than the 90-year old elementary behemoth in the suburbs, which my own children were attending. (About 3 years later the district finally agreed to improve the infrastructure and my kids moved to a glossy new building that looked like a merger between the Titanic and Danish Modern furniture. But it was a vast improvement.)

Today, once again, we painted; and we served our own family community, the five people who live within this house...I helped my oldest son move into his own room. Oh, it's not finished--the window frames and baseboards need repair and a coat of paint, and there are no curtains on the four large windows--but it's January and we can't quite open the windows, and he deserves this, having worked long shoveling out the clutter, spackling, painting, and cleaning. And he was ready for his own room. When his sister arrived, 12+ years ago, by default he ended up sharing a room with his younger brother. I think it has made them close; I would hear them sparring of an afternoon, like an old married couple, and then sharing secrets in the dark of bedtime. Being an only child, it's an experience I will never know and cannot even imagine. And I wonder what their relationship will be like when they are adults.

It was fun for me to see him arrange the furniture we have available, imagining what his new desk will look like when he can afford it, placing his Abbey Road poster where it will greet him when he wakes. (It was not fun for me to vacuum, the fallout being a tremendous flareup of my allergies; I've already double-dosed on the antihistamine, showered to settle the dust, and hydrated myself with a vat of hot tea, and my nose still won't quit. A blatant reminder of why I should not do housework.)

His brother is now dreaming about the transformation to take place in his own--the formerly shared--room. So I guess I will be looking at more spackling, sanding, rearranging, and painting--oh, forgot priming. I'm struggling with where to put the extra, unwanted bunk bed. I'm trying to figure out how "ceiling paint" knows where it is, and what might befall if I put it on the walls. I'm thinking a respiratory mask might be a good idea when we get to the cleanup stage. I'm wondering if I can risk taking a third antihistamine.

And I'm realizing that if we ever decide to sell the house, I'm hiring professionals.

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