My wife calls me the family memory keeper. She says it’s because I can always be relied upon with the camera at just about any event. But this nickname is a little ironic because when it comes to memory, I’d probably give myself an overall C+. I often forget where I put my keys, phone, or glasses. I walk out the door without my lunch. I can’t remember everyone’s birthday. And no, I don’t recall the conversation my wife and I had last week about getting the oil changed in her car.
I’ll let you in on a secret though. Sometimes I’m simply not paying attention but other times I practice ‘selective’ memory. I honestly think there’s only so much RAM available in the brain and one ought to be judicious in how it’s used. So I’ve chosen to use mine for the really important things!
One thing I can remember is every single house I’ve ever built. Every floor plan, every elevation, the uniqueness of every lot. And I remember the families who bought each house. Where they came from, their work, their kids. I remember all of it. If you’ve followed this blog or perused the JFB website much you’ll recognize that this is certainly a lot of memories. But I keep them all because they’re important to me.
Last week we sold one of our spec houses. The capitalist in me was of course pleased. After all, this is why we’re in business, right? And the poet in me was happy that a family will now bring real life to the home. But there’s always a part of me that lets go reluctantly and I’ll wax nostalgic about things like that unbelievable basement or the view from the master bedroom.
As I did the final walk through with the family who’d bought the home, I reflected that I’m one of those lucky few whose job doesn’t really feel like work. I’m so grateful that it’s something I truly love. For me each home is an empty canvas waiting to be painted. Like all the others, with this house I remember standing on the lot before we began to clear for the foundation—when it was nothing but a wild and overgrown tangle of nature. In my mind I visualized the finished house and imagined the way the sunlight would play through the windows. I thought about the beauty of the porch columns, how the curve of the driveway would make the perfect basketball court, and how you’d be able to stand in the kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday and enjoy the game on the big screen in the family room.
I once built a house with an indoor swimming pool. Another with a dance studio and yet another with a wrapping paper room. Last year I moved two small houses from one location to another and put them together, creating a whole new home. Large or small, new or renovation, every house is special. I remember all of them and I leave a piece of myself behind in each. As we finished up the walkthrough at the spec last week, I took one last look at the ceiling beam I’d wrapped in wood salvaged from a local barn and counted my blessings. Yes, I l do love to build houses. I love every single minute of it.