While I’ve persevered in my fight to save plaster, I’ll also admit I get a thrill from demolition. More specifically, taking things down to the studs. More specifically, saying (with authority), “Yeah, we pretty much took it down to the studs.”

I’ve been thinking about why, of all construction terms, this has become my favorite. And I think it’s because it implies the possibility of truly starting again. My first, last, and only new beginning came 31 years ago; it’s no wonder I’m entranced by the  notion.

Sometimes we say people have gotten a “fresh start,” but we can’t, not really. We aren’t houses; we have memories, habits. We are always stuck building on the human we were just a moment ago.

That’s why I still have some sympathy for our former handyman, even after he took our truck and pawned some of our tools (I still have anger, too). When he returned from his journey he shook while he worked on our house, the addiction back in full swing. Change is hard. He tried. He failed. We all do, often enough.

Still, while “to the studs” implies the possibility of a Phoenix-like transformation, I don’t want to glorify it too much. Remember how we took the bathroom in our rental down to the studs?


Still down to the studs. Plus a new fan. Rebuilding is the hardest work of all.

Meanwhile, our easy fixes fly along. For example, our kitchen cabinets are happy in their new coat of white (we also pulled up carpet, took down cabinets on the one wall to replace with shelving/seating, and sold off the old appliances):







So I’ve been thinking about this whole “to the studs” thing, and maybe it’s not that amazing. Or, maybe it is amazing. But maybe the most important thing is any change, no matter how small, that takes us in the right direction.

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