Our friends Max and Karla, an undoubtedly adorable married couple, have purchased an apartment in Chapel Hill, and are in the process of doing some major fixing-up on the place so come summer they can rent it out to students. J and I swung by yesterday to take a look at the "before" picture. The floor, now covered by a dingy rug, was littered with various painting tools, solvents and glues. They were in the process of removing wallpaper from the kitchen, a wretched, drawn-out process. The toilet was in the tub in the hallway bathroom. But the one room, a dining room it seemed, in which they'd painted both the ceiling and walls, looked great. We've volunteered to help in any way we can. They're doing a lot to the place and while I'd like to sit around and talk, maybe bang a nail or whatever, I get the feeling J would really like to get in there and BUILD. I especially got this feeling when after leaving the apartment, I spotted the look in his eye. It was the gleam of a crazed boy, my J, who, no matter what else was going on, had something on his mind and there was going to be no distracting him from this thought. Usually, with this look, it's a new life direction.
"Do you want to help them? That would be a lot of fun," I asked, nervous.
"Yeah," he said. And then, "Yeah! I don't want to go into the lab anymore. I just want to wear whatever and fix up apartments and listen to jazz music really loud."
While I know he doesn't really mean this, I find it funny when he launches these grand plans. It's like, in his eyes, there is the remote possibility.
Later that night I was watching the Food Network, a new obsession, and dropping cuticle oil at the base of each fingernail. This is something I rarely do, so J inquired about the process when he spotted me.
"Should I do that too?" he inquired. I thought about his plans to work on apartments, jazz music blaring in the background, his recent boasts to take better care of himself in the new year, to become more healthy.
He looked at his fingers, and I told him he probably didn't need any help with his cuticles, but sure, why not. After all, there is nothing like the year's end to make promises we will or will not keep, but at least see all our potential and deliver our most dedicated attempts to try.