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Robert Delaunay: Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon (1912–13)
" … will we regale them of stories of what was once there but is there no longer?"

The Muse and my relationship with our beloved Villa Vatta Schmaltz does not very much resemble a marriage, marked as it has been by extended absences. Nor does it look very much like a birth family deal. We do not share DNA. Our life here more closely favors Adopting, for we've taken this place into our family and, or so it also seems, this place has been steadily Adopting us. It's a curious relationship in that The Muse and I have been largely focused upon improving this place since we first moved in, and pursuing improvements might be hints that we're criticizing our adopted family member. I think my second wife and I got hitched on the prospect of who we might become together, but the differences between what we were and what we might improve into got us before we could arrive at our destination together. There's something genuinely poisonous about focusing upon achieving future improvements. Nothing turns off the present and no future directly influences anything before it, though the sense that we're not quite there yet can tear asunder even the truer loves. We are always here yet and never quite there yet.

That said, we love this place as if it were family.
Through The Grand Refurbishment, we often caught ourselves praising this place for its bones. When I removed all that horrible wall-to-wall carpet, leaving creepy hundred year old linoleum and piles of pixie dust, we focused upon the bones revealed. The stairs were not nearly as worn as we'd feared they might have been. The walls and ceilings needed many fewer patches than comparable places had. The bannister, a controversial feature, became a counterpoint of The Grand Refurbishment as a testament to our painter, not to either of its owners. Our painter and our carpenter serve as therapists for us and this house, negotiating terms of engagement. We wonder how it might be, and they tell us what's possible and what might prove to be in poor taste. We don't know how it's supposed to fit together, just that we aspire for it to all fit together. We're still and probably always will be in the process of getting used to each other.

In San Jose, California, the widow of the Winchester founder, built a rambling mansion which she never finished constructing. It seems that she suffered from a delusion that as long as the construction never came to a conclusion, she would not die, so she built stairways to nowhere and rooms filled with nothing. I some days wonder if The Muse and I have fallen prey to some similar confusion, and I wonder what might become of us once we've exhausted the list of home improvements and confront the fact that we live in the home we always wanted, or always said we did. A relationship based upon always Adopting, always changing, might struggle to accept stasis. Arrival could be the finish.

We're in no immediate danger of our dreams coming completely true and, clutter and compression aside, we've come to rather enjoy the Refurbishment ride. Each day has been a form of therapy, with us in continual conversation with out able painter and carpenter. We set our sights each morning before setting about that day's improvements. I coordinate, but lightly. The Muse dictates imperatives. The house responds as houses do, according to its bones, which we've so long praised that they've become pliable. We removed the last of the unfortunate channeled trim boards this week and that room moved closer to what we'd once only dared to imagine. In the past, we'd regale visitors with what would be coming, as if they were visiting a strange gallery where nobody could see the objects on display, but must imagine them from unavoidably vague descriptions. In the future, will we regale them of stories of what was once there but is there no longer?

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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