Opposites

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Ken gets itchy without a project. (I cannot even remotely relate to this.) When Bee was just one, barely walking, she took her pajama-clad self to the kitchen window to see the first snow of the season fall quietly onto the backyard trees. The moment is slow, sweet. I stir the chili and watch them both take it in — mesmerized, mouths agape with wonder, each of us in silent awe. They in awe of the snow, me in awe of them. All is calm.

Less than three hours later, Ken emerges breathless from his woodshop with sawdust hair and a giddy smile, carrying a custom sled he’d built – Just now? I ask. Just now! he says. – Out of spare plywood and a rope. Can I wake her up? Take it for a spin?

 

It has just always been this way: Ken, with the boundless energy, the sheer spontaneity, the winning ideas. Me, stirring the chili. Opposites attract indeed.

This was not the greatest month to perform a remodel of any kind; I’ll just put that out there right away. The baby is teething. The book is launching. The calendar is filling with caroling nights, cookie parties and plane tickets; it all feels a bit blurred. And the bathroom shower did need tiling.

 

The Official Loechner Remodeling Protocol, Revised 2016: Erin suggests form. Ken demands function. Erin offers a compromise of form and function. Ken tells Erin this particular compromise is impossible, citing for reference any of the following axioms: physics, chemistry, time, space. Erin gets confused. Bee interrupts to ask for cashews. Ken promises to make it look pretty, offers any of the following platitudes: Trust me. I have an idea. I know what to do. Erin agrees, gets cashews. Ken gets to work.

 

It has been only a few months since my Chicago design tour, so I’m still steeped, still freshly inspired. There are so many possibilities for our wee little bathroom. Are you gonna add any color this time? my mother-in-law jokes on the phone when I discuss our plans. Does Zura TM Matte Black count? I ask. I hear only laughter. But I’ve learned that knowing your style means little more than knowing yourself, and well, I suppose we’re all fairly acquainted with me by now.

And so, it’s decided: a stark black faucet against the all-white vanity to provide contrast. Subway tiling to offer clean lines. Hanging planters to bring texture. A pop of cedar lining for detail. Form and function, yin and yang. Opposites.

 

Ken works tirelessly as he grouts to the Christmas Magic Spotify station while Bee and I take turns pulling teethers out of the freezer for Scout. Every now and then, one of us will sneak a peek down the hallway to see that Ken’s finished another row before we tip-toe back to the kitchen to tackle a puzzle or read a book. To stir the chili.

Days later, my mother-in-law stops by to see the big reveal, to survey the project that has kept her son awake well past the wee hours of the morning. She offers admirable sighs as Ken points out the cedar lining of the tile, the matte black of the faucet Watch the sensor; it’s touch-activated! – Each detailed element that so perfect complement my form and his function.

We still need to put in the bath mat, he tells her. What color is it?, she asks with a smile. We all know the answer.

In life and in bathrooms, there is beauty in challenging yourself. In stepping beyond your comfort zone to experiment, to try a new hobby or skill set, to – gasp! – attempt a colored bath mat. To add yin, or yang. And yet, there’s also beauty in knowing your likes and limitations. Your boundaries and bents. In glancing at your sawdust-covered husband as he grouts, smiling at his level of energy, his ideas, his dreams and goals and capabilities. Knowing they’ll never be quite the same as your own. (Someone’s got to stir the chili after all.)

Later, we brush our teeth before falling into bed after a busy weekend: his extrovert spirit filled from the bustling activity, my own introvert energy depleted from the same. I floss as I tell him how much I love the bathroom, as I thank him for his hard work. I knew you’d love it, he says while he rinses, spits. It’s so you. And so you, too, I laugh. Isn’t that weird? Not at all, he says with a kiss on the cheek as he flips off the lights to find sleep.

Two rooms over, Scout begins to stir. I rise and ready a bottle. I change a diaper. I shush and calm and whisper. There’s no sawdust, no spontaneity, no winning ideas. But it feels like a little bit of work, and it feels like a little bit of service, and it feels like a whole lot of love. And as I lie awake rocking Scout in a chair of gray upholstery, I wonder if maybe Ken and I aren’t quite so opposite after all.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Delta Faucet. The opinions and text are all mine.

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