Every morning this week I’ve woken up to the sound of construction. It’s not down the beach or across the street, it is Right. Outside. My. Window. The radio is blaring classic rock and the men are shouting measurements and demanding tools and singing along. I like their backwards hats, their tattoos, and the easy way they work together.
What’s fascinating to me as I watch them through the window over the kitchen sink is this:
I have absolutely no idea what they’re doing.
Now, I’m a smart girl. I can write a decent sentence, grow a (fairly) plentiful garden, knit a cozy sweater, sing a pretty song. But put a tool in my hand, and I’m going to need you to hold my other hand the entire time.
I helped my Dad and brothers build the new chicken house a few years ago. I used a drill and a saw and a hammer, but I still don’t know how to remove screws without stripping them. My youngest brother (who isn’t so young anymore), took the electric screw driver from me in exasperation, saying, “Catherine, I really don’t understand why you can’t figure this out,” and he proceeded to remove every screw with ease.
So I watch these men out my window while I wash the dishes, make breakfast, put the coffee on, and I think how amazing it is that they know what they’re doing. They’re not reading a manual. They’re not listening to a podcast. And the house is being built day-by-day, a foundation and frame where there was nothing.
Sometimes I wonder what skill I wish I had. It changes, depending on my mood. Most often I answer: “Art. I wish I were a good artist. I wish I could depict beauty with drawing or painting or sculpting.”
But right now? This morning? As the saws blast through wood and Elton John sings “Levon”?
I wish I could build a house. Maybe then I’d get that tattoo.