Sunday, September 18, 2011

Contracting Friendship

Time flies when you're having fun, at least that is what "they" (whoever "they" is) say.  The reality here is that time flies whether you are having fun or not.  I have had a crazy start to the school year - lots of little things that have kept me just enough off-balance that writing here has not happened.  I have written a little for other things and I want to share that here.

Earlier in the summer I came across an essay contest that asked the question, "Who are you most surprised to be friends with?"  Finding an appropriate subject was not the difficult part; limiting the essay to no more than 300 words was however quite challenging for me.  I wrote and edited and wrote and edited.  Once I had something that I thought made me happy, I had several of my closest friends (the ones that I did not write about in the essay) read it and offer constructive criticism.  I made some changes and then submitted it.

My entry did not make it into the group of finalists.  That's OK.  I enjoyed telling my story and just entering was a positive step for me.  I could not publish it any place else until the contest finalists had been announced.  Since that has now happened, here is my story about a surprising friendship.


A year ago my husband and I were married – “take two” for both of us.  The biggest decision facing us as we planned for our life together was where to live.  The choices were my country house, requiring a hundred mile a day commute, or his city house, much nearer to work for both of us but holding unhappy memories and needing considerable updating.

The economy made the decision.  With gas prices,
commuting was a poor option for us and the environment.

We searched newspapers, considered fliers taped to the front door, and checked bulletin boards at home improvement stores for a contractor. Nothing felt “right.”  Then a friend suggested Paul.

Paul carefully listened as we explained that we needed him to make the house “different” enough to ease my husband’s ill feelings and restore the happy memories from his childhood. This was the house in which he grew up.  Paul said, “I can do it.” Work began.

The morning after our wedding we received an email from Paul that said, “Congratulations and thank you for letting me take part in creating your new home.”  We were deeply touched and knew we had definitely chosen the perfect contractor.

During this time Paul was caring for his aging mother and his only sibling, who was fighting a losing battle with cancer.  Each day we checked on the house and Paul’s brother.  On a September evening I suddenly felt a nudge to check my email.  “Marc is gone.” read Paul’s words sent only moments before.  This is not the kind of thing that happens between contractors and clients, but between friends.

Through our remodeling experience we have grieved together, healed together, reminisced together, laughed together (often about pink paint and glow in the dark stars) and grown together into true friends.