Mei Mei Evans: Heaven-Hell — The Great 2013 Home Remodel

seemed like such a good idea at the time: to celebrate my job promotion and
the fact of turning 60 in the same year by finally adding on to our 640-square
foot home.  I thought it would be great
to actually have an entryway instead of opening the front door to find your
snow-covered and/or rain-sodden self dripping all over the living room floor.  I pined for a private writing space that
wouldn’t put me in direct competition with the TV.  Although I know that the idea of downsizing
and making do in houses as compact as 200-square feet has recently come to be
seen as an ecological advancement, I’m willing to bet good money that no one
has ever tried living in a such a small space with a teenager.

So I
started my quest to find an available, qualified contractor and shortly settled
on X.  X was personable, highly skilled,
and although he was a builder of the male persuasion (it sometimes being
problematic for single women to feel respected by male “experts”), I was
thrilled to discover that X’s right-hand “man” was a young woman with
progressive politics.  Let the demolition

daughter and I –and the cat–moved out, along with all of our household
possessions, leaving the shell of the house to be dismantled in the various
ways that would enable eventual re-assembly into a more workable, better-insulated
home.  So far, so good.   We began a quarter year of sheltering with
friends, house-sitting, and traveling both near and far.  What began as novelty –the “staycation”
aspect of remaining in town but not living at home—quickly wore thin, and the
initially attractive notion of spending a month with family on the east coast
eventually gave way to reminders of why I had moved to Alaska in the first

it all, our contractor worked hard to deliver an attractive, well-insulated, bright
improvement on our former home.  He was
so attentive to details, in fact, so courteous, competent, (and clean, thrifty,
brave, etc.) that I, a lesbian, began to question my sexual orientation.  This was the heaven phase of the building

Now we
approach fall equinox, and I am sorry to say, dear reader, that although we
have re-inhabited our house, the job remains unfinished.  I have fallen out of love with my builder,
who decided to go hunting two weeks ago without telling us.  I have just learned that, in the absence of
getting his moose, he has extended his hunt, and I can only guess when our
renovation might finally be completed.  Admittedly,
this is what my friend Sally calls a “first-world” problem, not to be blown out
of proportion, but I now have insight into why, when I excitedly told a
colleague last May that we had embarked on a home remodel, she took hold of my
arm, looked me in the eye, and said, “I’m so sorry.”

Mei Mei Evans is the author of the novel Oil and Water, published by the University of Alaska Press. She is associate professor at Alaska Pacific University and lives in Anchorage. She was a public information officer for Homer, Alaska, during the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

1 thought on “Mei Mei Evans: Heaven-Hell — The Great 2013 Home Remodel”

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top