Mike has been working on a boat for the past few years.
At first he decided to build one from scratch, which he did. It was just a little guy, something to tool around with in the harbor. Mike is one of those men that gets an idea, figures out how to do it, and then does it, which is one of my favorites of his qualities.
Last year, he found an old, larger boat he wanted to restore. He had tinkered with the engine, patched it up and gotten it sea-worthy, but then thought he’d like it to look a little prettier. After all, this boat was an untouched relic of the 1960’s and she’d seen better days. Plus, it needed some more work, I think. I’m no boat expert.
So that is the short version of how I came to spend the past few days wet sanding, washing, and painting part of his boat.
It started out a few evenings ago, after the heat dialed it down a few degrees. Instead of the usual routine, going out to work in the garage while I wrote, he asked if I could give him a hand. Seeing as the writing had been going nowhere all day, I shrugged, signed off and followed him out back.
After he walked me through the process several times (like I said, I’m no boat expert), I got the hang of it. Wet sand the whole mess, rinse, wipe down, dry off, then apply thinned-down marine paint with a sponge. Got it.
At first, I just wanted to go back to my unfruitful writing. I had to wear gloves to protect my hands from the mineral spirits, and I hate wearing gloves. It makes blowing my nose really hard, and I am constantly blowing my nose (thank you, perennial allergies). Plus, my Internet readers need me, even if what I’m writing is total crap. I am a busy woman.
After I had finished the process though, as I pulled off the detestable gloves I caught myself admitting to Mike, “That was kind of fun.”
“Well,” he said, still fiddling with the engine, “if you have time tomorrow, it would really help me if you could do another coat. You don’t have to or anything, just if you want.”
“Sure,” I told him, really meaning “maybe,” which also could mean “probably not.”
However, as I sat at my computer the next day, I decided that in lieu of a run or an hour of yoga in my living room, I would do another coat on the boat. You know, for exercise. I put on my headphones and darned if an hour passed without my even noticing.
Today, I went for a run in the morning, but found myself answering the siren song out in the garage again afterward. It only needs maybe one more coat and it’ll be finished.
See, I’ve always liked working with my hands. It’s in my genes – my family is made up mostly of craftspeople and trade artists. Being the son my father never had, I grew up with my dad calling me out to the garage to help him with his projects. Most of the time, I enjoyed this; learning how to apply paint without drips, sanding cabinets and applying finish, learning how to use various tools and machines. Performing such skills is somehow meditative.
Sometimes, in my very cerebral and imaginative existence, I forget about that part of my personality. While unemployed, I’ve had the privilege of rediscovering a lot of the forgotten corners of myself and what makes me happy.
I may not know what the future holds for my career, but I’m doing better than okay in the meantime. At least, as long as I can keep painting the boat.
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