Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Renovation: Sisters Doing it For Themselves

Remember Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox singing "Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves,'" O MTV generation?

Yeah. It reminds me of me and my sister, Dyan. Aretha and Annie weren't singing about sisterhood in the sense of siblings, but of female solidarity. But for me and for Dyan, it's the same thing, really. For me it was about having the courage to leave behind a marriage that was predicated entirely on me being an accessory to someone else's well-lived life; for Dyan it was about having the courage to find, and create, what she loves. I guess you could say we're late bloomers; I don't think she'd argue that one with me.

How that ties into the drywall and carpentry that happened in July is a bit murky, but that could have to do with the copious quantities of Southern Comfort we drank that week. Forgive me if my metaphors are a bit wobbly.

My sister arrived Mid- to Late- Plumbing Disaster Era, Mid-Century Move-out, High Season Mental Breakdown. She rolled her long hair up in a bun, mopped my laundry room floor, flung the last of the moving boxes in the back of my van, then put her hands on her sexy super-heroine hips and asked whether I needed any more help. It was just like that. She even showed up with super-heroine gadgets. Er, power tools.

My sister, saving my planet single-handedly with a hammer.
What we sisters were doing for ourselves was drywall. Lots of drywall. We decided that the walls in the Cowboy Bedroom, the one that was to be my master bedroom, the Lady Lair, were officially trashed with all the wrecked wallpaper, nail holes, and adhesive tar. With no desire or time to do a complete gut job, we decided we'd sheath the old damaged walls in a fresh layer. Half-inch drywall weighs 40 pounds a sheet, or 80 pounds in those two-fer bound sets they sell at home improvement stores. But I believe the proper phraseology to use while on active drywall duty is "these things weigh an ass-ton." Which was why our arms were aching and our legs hurting by the end of the deal.

We worked together a lot, heaving drywall, measuring, wedging it up the narrow staircase, figgerin' the math of all the weird shaped gable-end walls in my room; but the plain truth of it was I frequently had to go back to my payin' job. She did a lot of the work on her own--sweaty, dirty, gut work. I was not only bust-yer-buttons proud, I was grateful in a way that almost made me want to hit her and steal her best sweater--you know, the way sisters show affection and admiration when they're 12.

The awesomeness was really too much to withstand. And to be even more awesome, she sanded the Black Fog off the floor. If in years to come some black mutant Unspeakable Thing is found lodged in her brain, we'll know, and I'll have to avenge her. Until then, I can just get her another drink of Southern Comfort.

When she left town, I had this:

Subfloor! I could kiss you!

And some baseboard in the other bedroom, to boot. Before we walled up the last of it (though we ran out of time for the one wall gutted from the bathroom sink leak), we left this secret message for the next remodelers. We forgot to mention that we're sisters. But perhaps that's obvious.

And that's even before we hung the drapes.