Many friends ask why I spend summers working on a house in the boonies of northern New Mexico. The pat answer, one that satisfies because it is something that most can understand, is that it will be a "retirement home."
But that does not really get at the heart of why I am doing such a thing. There are psychological dynamics at work that are hard to convey in polite small talk. Those reasons run deep.
Before I go there though, I have to say that I don't know what or why, exactly, I am doing this. I just am because it is there and I can. The reasons are revealing themselves as the project progresses. What emerges later may give more insight than I have at present.
So, a long time ago, I was asked to put my playful little kid on the shelf. Because my father went off to fight wars and I was the oldest boy, I was the "man of the house." Of course, I wasn't really, but I was in that role anyway. I needed to find out how to do things like fix leaky sinks and change flappers in toilet tanks. I also served as a kind of confidant for my mother.
My role felt more "adult" than kid.
All of this is subtle, but I forgot how to just play and be creative, imaginative. I pushed a now angry little kid into the shadows of the psyche.
Fast forward about fifty years, and I am now crippled by depression and anger and need to get off the work treadmill.
The house represents a place where I can begin to woo that crazy aspect of myself back home. It will take some time and some quiet and patience. I may have to sit on the deck and sing sad songs to the changing light on the rocks in the back yard.
But I think he might hear me. And, if he comes back, we might have some things to talk about, some peace after all these years.