Passing the Torch

Classic Cozy Craftsman, 5 Blocks to Beach.

This week I open my home up as an Air BnB.  The idea came to me when my daughter told me she would be leaving for Colorado.  This wonderful new start for her had left me wondering what I would do with a soon-to-be empty house.

The preparation has been a mix of emotions.  On one hand, there was the excitement and pleasure of fixing up the room, painting and cleaning and going to town on Amazon.  On the other hand, there was the resentment, even anger, that this was at all necessary. If Mike had not died, I would not need to be doing this at all.

Yesterday I was in the room putting on the finishing touches, hanging pictures, picking out the books, and I looked at the desk we had brought in.  It had been Mike’s, brought west from Ohio.  For months I’d left it out on the porch thinking to get rid of it.  It had gathered dust, rain, cobwebs.

With the BnB, I now had a place for it, though it definitely looked the worse for wear. I went out to the garage and found sandpaper, a can of wax, some rags for wiping, and went to work.  I confess I do not have the patience he had for wood working.  It was his creative passion, the way writing is mine.  He would plan and measure, cut and sand, prime and paint, and he would fairly glow when he showed me his completed projects.

So, on this afternoon I turned the music up loud, put on my dirties, and began.  I could feel the anger I was working out as I sanded and waxed and buffed.  But I could also feel the satisfaction of working my muscles in this different way. There was a tactile pleasure to the sensation of smooth wood against my fingers.  And when I applied the wax and buffed, noticing how it began to glow, I smiled.

As I contemplate this undertaking I worry that after all my months of seclusion I will resent strangers traipsing through my house, invading my privacy, making too much noise. But then I think back to some of my favorite tales such as Homer’s “Odyssey,” and how he went into such exquisite detail about the importance of hospitality.  He wrote of the sacredness of having a guest in the home, helping them feel welcome, creating sanctuary.  That resonates.

I know my home needs to be lived in.  It glows with welcome when there are people in it, talking or cooking or sitting out on the front porch waving as neighbors walk by.  Already I have guests scheduled from France, India, England as well as American cities.  Who knows what may come from these visits; what friendships, adventures, links to other lands may grow out of this cross-pollination.  Like so much over the past months, this is new territory filled with possibility.

As I put his tools away, his favorite level, his well-worn hammer, I hugged them to my chest, feeling the tears rise.  This is a transition, a passing of the torch.  His tools are now my tools.  I will try to use them well, honoring him as I do, remembering his care, his patience with anything he took on.
As the sun rises on a beautiful spring morning in Santa Monica, I put out fresh towels and a sprig of lavender for my guests and whisper, “Look, love, Casa Strader is now open for guests…”

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