Sometime last year I began refinishing a toy chest, or what my family calls a toy box, for my daughter. It was given to me by my paternal grandfather on my first birthday. He made it by hand. A piece you can’t find at Ikea or Pottery Barn. I decided to refinish it because I want to pass down something that was once mine to my daughter, in hopes that she will pass it down to her child or children.
Throughout the years, the box has donned different colors. First, it was red with a white base, then yellow after my sister decided to use it for a few years to house her bed linens. Eventually, I reclaimed ownership and painted it a dark, nutty brown; a color that proved to be hideous and thick.
I have yet to finish the refinishing process due to different circumstances. It’s in the garage, out of sight. Every day, as I enter and exit, I’m reminded I need to finish what I’ve started. I only have the back to sand, along with some valleys. I asked my maternal grandfather, who also has woodworking experience, the best way to sand those places, and he recommended a particular tool.
I’m editing a story that’s in the point of view of a grandmother. I’ve been working on this story for a few years now. (Yes, years.) As I’ve learned more about the main character and what she really wants in life, I’ve realized she’s not a grandmother, and never had any children. The story isn’t about her struggle with her adult daughter, but the struggle for intimacy in her marriage and life. It’s only within the past few weeks I’ve discovered this.
I keep wondering if this enlightenment could have happened sooner. Maybe if I’d been more disciplined in my habits. Did this revelation require time? My own personal growth?
There’s a part of me that wishes I could have finished these projects sooner. Like on one of the nights when I chose to watch TV or sleep. Could I have pushed myself? Should I have been done with this woman’s story a long time ago? And has taking time prolonged anything? Has it done any damage?
Both projects have required an unveiling, as if I’ve been slowly pulling a sheet from the top of each. There’s a hesitancy in knowing a creative work is about to be done, a fear that lingers. Will the payoff be as satisfying as I want it to be? When I finally pull that sheet and am face to face with creation, will I be pleased?