Cutting Beyond the Quick

By Rose Ann Sinay

Our house had been on the market for eight, long months, and I had given up hope of starting the New Year in a smaller abode in sunny North Carolina. It seemed inevitable that we would have to endure another snowy, New England winter. We couldn’t ditch the snow blower, the plow, or the assortment of shovels just yet. Basking in the warm, Carolina sun was still only a dream.

Unexpectedly, on the coldest day of the year, we got a call from our realtor – we had an offer. My husband and I were ecstatic. It’s what we wanted, what we’d been waiting for; but, could we actually do it? Now that it was a reality, could we really leave our home of twenty-eight years where every square inch held memories of children, friends and family – where nearly every nail had been set by my husband’s hammer, every board cut by his hand? I was saddened at the thought of strangers painting over the markings on the pole that showcased the history of my children’s growth. I had to shake this feeling. There was so much to do.

I looked around our home with new eyes. The collection of hand-carved birds, nesting in their niches in the floor to ceiling bookshelves, wouldn’t be making the migration south. It pinched my heart to think of getting rid of them, but there was no room. Someone else’s belongings would own those spaces. Did the new owners have anything worthy of filling them, I wondered.

Books filled the expanse of shelves between the carvings. Dickens and Bronte shared space between the mallard and the sandpiper, while King and Follett bridged the gap between the heron and the egret. There were a few valuable, signed editions, but most of the volumes were just my own personal favorites – I had a lot of favorites. Giving them away was going to be excruciating.

“They’re dead weight.” The mover eyed the wall of books and handed me the pricey estimate. “You may want to get rid of some,” he said, viewing my literary friends as expendable mass.

In the basement, my husband faced his own dilemma. His massive workshop occupied the entire footprint of the house. Saws, hammers and things I had no names for were outlined in black and hung neatly on the walls. A lathe and drill press, extensions of my husband’s hands, perched on stands ready to go to work. At the other end of the huge room sat the Gravely tractor with its numerous attachments. What to bring? It was a no-brainer to me. He wouldn’t need his own, personal hardware store where we were going. Our five acres of land was being reduced to a mere postage stamp lot. A new house wouldn’t require major repairs, and I certainly didn’t anticipate two feet of snow along the Carolina coast that would require the power of our mighty Gravely. If I had to cut to the quick, so did he!

Moving day approached and suddenly, the eight month wait seemed like a blip in time.

Downstairs, my husband secured boxes with masking tape and lined them up by the door.

“It’s going with us,” he said, when I offered my help.

He couldn’t possibly mean his workshop. The new garage would accommodate two cars, and not much more. I did a quick, visual assessment of his packing progress. The silhouettes of his missing tools looked eerily naked.

“I gave some of it away,” he continued, “but I’m taking the rest.”

“…the tractor and plow?”

He nodded. “I’ll find a place for them.”

Boxes, lengths of lumber and finished planks were bundled with rope, ready to be relocated. There was no use arguing with him. All I knew was his stuff was NOT going to be stored on my side of the garage. His truck could bake outside in the southern sun.

I stomped up the stairs and grabbed a fat, red marker. North Carolina I wrote on the cartons of books that had been slated for the library.

We arrived a day before the movers. The house seemed even smaller than I had remembered. I hung curtains and wandered through the newly painted rooms with a measuring tape trying to find an extra three or four inches of usable space. With a little creativity, our whittled down belongings were going to fit…everything, except my books and his workshop.

I was in town, establishing our new life, opening bank accounts and exploring the local stores when the moving truck arrived.

By the time I got home, the transfer was well underway. I parked the car on the road and proceeded to the front door staying clear of the furniture procession.

“Don’t come in yet,” my husband yelled as he caught sight of me.

His worn, leather, tool belt sat comfortably on his hips. His face and hair were salted with wood shavings. Wet patches of perspiration stained his t-shirt.

“Stay right there,” he ordered.

There was the whir of a drill, and a flurry of clumsy activity.

“Okay, you can come in now.”

I navigated through a maze of boxes that led into my living room. Boards leaned against the old table saw, positioned in the middle of the space. Tools littered the blue tarp that covered the floor. I followed my husband’s gaze. There, flanking both sides of the fireplace, were two unfinished bookshelves with the promise (and framing) of more to come. Five or six books sat haphazardly on top.

He reached into another box, pulled out the egret, and plunked it next to my books.

“So, what do you think,” he asked with a grin on his face, the drill still in his hand.

I maneuvered closer, stepping over his beloved tools and errant blocks of wood. A Tale of Two Cities and Lady Chatterley’s Lover stood comfortably, side by side.

“I think,” I said, grinning back at him, “it’s beginning to feel like home.”

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

5 Responses to “Cutting Beyond the Quick”

  1. Rae says:

    Having just recently moved from our family home into a much smaller home one never knows how it will all work out. This story struck just the right cord – loved it!

  2. Kailey Konow says:

    Nothing will replace the feeling and memories made in your first home and it’s always difficult to transition into a new one- you captured that often epic life event beautifully!

  3. Susan South says:

    What a great read. I love the way you craft your storytelling. Can’t wait for the next one.

  4. Ida Konow says:

    Touched my heart. Made me cry.

Leave your mark with style

Comment in style

Stand out from the crowd and add some flare beside your comment.
Get your free Gravatar today!

Make it personal

avatar versus gravatar Close