Maybe I've earned some supper tonight."

By four pm, we shift toward the general direction of shutting down the remodeling work. Though the sun won't set for another couple of hours, the shadows have already started stretching longer and the temperature has slipped. The morning takes almost until noon to shake off the overnight chill, so we're working bankers' hours, though no banker ever worked as diligently as we seem to. I seem to have lost some of my contemplative nature, tucking my head down and just doing whatever seems to need doing, sensing that our time here grows ever shorter, even while each day grows a tiny bit longer. The clean up seems to take as much time as it takes to make the messes in the first place and everything we do leaves some mess behind. The drywall dust has been the worst so far, but the floor sanding promises even worse. We paint today.

My brother Bob reminded me of the blue box, a storage container where I'd stashed my painting supplies from the times before.
We found it tucked in the garage, my Swedish steel scraper still inside. Memories flooded out of it when I opened the top. The times I've spent here since the exile have been the most satisfying experiences of this era. I never leave here without accomplishing something, returning to a life characterized by less tangible outcomes, where electric light rather than sunlight delineates each workday. I live in my head there, wrestling with the barely tangible, clock watching or at least time-aware. My days here dissolve into a timeless haze until ShadowTime slips into the work space. My body rather than just my brain aches here. My brain thinks its on vacation.

I told the HVAC contractor that this remodeling project felt like the very best kind of vacation to me, since it involves activities I would never otherwise engage in. He, who lives in this world I get only sporadic glimpses into, reported that he'd rather sit on a beach drinking tiki drinks for his vacation. I accused him of failing to be easily enough bored. I've never spent a day sipping tiki drinks on a beach and would not voluntarily agree to, so I had no basis upon which to accuse the contractor of anything. We were joking around, except I was dead serious. I've felt blessed every day on this job, thinking myself the luckiest SOB on Earth. You see, I had been watching the shadows lengthen, considering the approaching Winter of my life, failing to muster up much of any sense of enthusiasm, considering cleaning up more than creating. Thinking my own Springtime left behind. Imagine my delight when discovering that I still have a hopeful spring left in my step.

ShadowTime carries the satisfaction of a job done, the weary swish of a broom and the ever-annoying roar of the shopvac sucking havoc. I've learned that one always empties the shopvac
outside, that there's always a little more room remaining in even the most obviously over-stuffed trash bag, and that there's always another nail to be discovered after the final cleanup seems complete. The game's not over until the game's over, and the game's never quite complete. We retreat before finishing everything we contemplated completing earlier in the day, when time still seemed easily infinite enough to hold any optimistic aspiration. ShadowTime brings an informal accounting, a reckoning recalibrating expectations, the only place where hopes and dreams could possibly come true.

I walk satisfied through the still unfinished rooms, reconsidering the likelihood of eventual success, though I've lost any sense of what might constitute a greater success than this simple daily engagement. I once wanted nothing more than to see the end of this dreaded winter, AnotherWinter, as though I needed nothing more than the innocence of AnotherSpring, to revive the time before my ShadowTime. I'm learning that ShadowTime has her attractions and that I cannot carry innocence as either a possession or an objective. AnotherSpring will come in her time like another day will come tomorrow, taking half her morning to shake off the overnight chill. I remember one more small chore after closing the door for the night. I reenter the space for one more additional last time this evening, the contractors long gone, a lingering dustiness persisting. The sky outside turns golden and red, the last light casting the longest shadow, seemingly the purest light of the day. It's been a long time since breakfast, I think to myself. Maybe I've earned some supper tonight.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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