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Jules Bastien-Lepage: Joan of Arc (1879)
"I glance up and just notice, then, that I've turned Into someone else."

I feel humbled as our grand refurbish finally starts turning into something more than aspirations. Today marks seven weeks since Kurt Our Painter first appeared here and we began poking around the edges together, working toward a largely undefined center. The Muse and I had just settled on paint color as if that amounted to much, which it did but also did not. Paint color served as the starting point and will become one lasting effect of having done this work, but repainting was not ever the purpose of this refurbish. It served as more of a premise, a story capable of holding many conflicting elements, and in many ways repainting has served as a false premise. Yes, every square inch of much of this house will have been repainted by the time we're finished. Considerable unpainting will have been completed to accomplish finished, too, and more time will have been spent prepping than painting. The labels we give our work materially misrepresent it. Our aspirations still seem vague from today's perspective, so much closer to done than when we started. Much fuzziness remains, though we're not panicking, hoping to become more certain. We seem to have become more comfortable with not precisely knowing and letting results emerge.

The most dramatic results thus far have also been the most subtle, as Intos tend to emerge quietly, without much fanfare.
When the trim first went up around doors and windows, we watched in awe. That shift happened very quickly, in barely a day. Kurt Our Painter took over then, caulking and finishing, cutting in edges while nobody was really watching until I noticed that he had finished. The finished window stood securely levitating above the floor, in stark contrast to the surrounding wall. It was beautiful and I had not really noticed it turning Into lovely. At one moment, after three weeks of details and fussing, it "suddenly" appeared. Likewise, the freshly cut in door frames and the baseboards and the crown moulding. Kurt was quick to point out a few remaining shortcomings, but they, too, were subtle and didn't blunt the effect of finished. Like how after nine grueling months, a baby "suddenly" appears. A fresh presence is now with us. What was turned into this.

A divine inspiration guides this work. Either that or dumb luck. I imagine an angel or two nudging our hands, pointing out possible revelations. We have so far remained fairly fearless. Our task list has grown almost of its own bidding, as we've noticed unanticipated connections. If this, then necessarily that. We'd be foolish not to include that as long as we're here and have the place torn wide open. The scope has not crept, just matured from naive notions into physical actions, from possibilities into choices, from choices into decisions, and from decisions into revelations. The dining room's damned well done and not one, certainly none of the principals, have any notion how that was accomplished. We each did our bit but nobody actually accomplished it, though Kurt cut in all the otherwise disparate edges to produce what looks like a whole.

For most of the life of a house, it's not becoming anything, it just is. It serves its purpose without further improvement. A few times, though, its owner decides to turn it into something different. This opens up the place to more than the elements, it turns it into an Into space, where what it was no longer persists and what it will be doesn't quite yet exist. The home becomes a construction zone and also a destruction one. It's barely livable. I'm seriously considering erecting scaffolding so that we might continue accessing our second floor while the freshly refinished master staircase cures. Some second floor windows need some attention anyway, so the scaffolding won't be a waste. I was also intending to refinish the exterior while we were at it. One element leads into another and before we know it, we're relaying foundation. I pray that we'll stop well short of that.

My life, too, has seen these conditions. Most of the time, I'm not turning into anything. I'm just who I am and doing my usual bidding. But a few times, perhaps a total of a half dozen times so far, I set about trying to turn what I had into something else. I made a break with my past. I blew up my present. I poked my head into some future not quite yet emergent. I set about turning Into something different. Those times remain the very most memorable as well as the most mysterious. I cannot say how what I turned into was accomplished. My metabolism, usually tuned to simple maintenance, shifted into transformation mode. My actions produced something different. As a result, I wrote a book or relocated. I reinvented my premise, becoming somebody materially different than I had been before. Some insist that we're always turning Into something different, but my experience has seemed more discontinuous. Into has been a special case. I bite off more than I can possibly chew before relearning how to swallow. I glance up and just notice, then, that I've turned Into someone else.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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