Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scheming Moment

Often as a child, we used to drive to Joliet, IL, the town next to us, regularly to visit my Grandfather's warehouse and construction business.  On the road we drove along the I&M Canal where we had always seen a myriad of water vehicles and other vessels docked along the way.  Each one was part of the ordinary, and none of that scene had ever resonated as noteworthy. However, when I was 10, there was a houseboat. It was large, white..ish, and abandoned. We had seen it many times, and I had noticed it, but it wasn't until I saw the "For Sale" sign that it had firmly implanted itself in my heart.  It was right then and there that I started scheming.  I did what I usually do when I'm scheming, I got a notebook.  I had a large collection of notebooks... and I still do.  This particular notebook contained my 10 year old perception of what it would cost to buy and renovate a houseboat.  I would give anything to have that notebook right now.  I still remember that I believed it would cost $10,000 to purchase the boat.  It WAS very run down, after all, and surely they wouldn't want much more than that.  My actual rationale for this pricing structure was that $10,000 would be a reasonable offer for anything and then it wouldn't just sit there abandoned as an eye sore.  I was going to save it, so how could they resist my offer?

Not the actual boat of my affection... but you get the idea.
I had outlined how I was going to save it, beginning with my plan for doing chores and odd jobs until I had saved $10,000.  Proving how clueless I was, I pitched the idea to my parents, who tried desperately not to laugh, then gently told me it would be years and years before I saved that much doing chores.  I told them it wouldn't matter, because a 10 year old can't drive a houseboat anyway. The only catch was that I was so worried that someone was going to snatch up my great find and sputter it down the I&M before I had saved enough. My brainstorming about this predicament led me to one conclusion: I was going to have to borrow the money from someone, and soon.  But in order to do that, I'd have to be persuasive and have a detailed plan of attack.  I started with aesthetics. I had color schemes, materials, layouts(even though I had never seen the inside of the area) and furniture choices. Of course, I never really took into account the fact that the thing might not run at all. I just knew I wanted to make it beautiful again. Long story short, I did not save $10,000, did not find an investor, and I am not sailing the I&M Canal (which is so gross, by the way) in a fancy remodeled houseboat. But for a whole year, that boat was the object of my affection, and it didn't even know I intended to save it from it's destiny as a ruined relic of the canal.

I come from a long line of emotionally driven "savers". My maternal Grandfather, who owned the afore mentioned warehouse, was legendary in Joliet for his kindness and his saving.  He used to employ the homeless folks that resided around the warehouse property, giving them odd jobs, some that he would create on the spot, just to get them out of the cold. He would handout Government issued cheese to the local people in the neighborhood around the warehouse. The warehouse itself was a save. He took a decrepit, old, and very large building and turned it into a flourishing family business. We walked around the place like royalty. I can still remember every corner.  When they tore it down, we each got a brick. It was a palace...

My mother used to take in every friend of ours, friend of theirs, or friend of a friend of a friend who needed help. It didn't matter the background or circumstance, she just wanted to help in any small way, to help themselves make a better life.  We spent years with an aunt, uncle or other relation in or around the house who needed refuge.  Saving didn't just extend to people, either. Every house we ever looked or lived in at had a better house inside of it just waiting for my parents to chisel away at the issues to set it free.

I caught the gene... OK, inherited the gene. Sometimes it is not a blessing, but only because it pains me to let things not be saved. When we look at a gorgeous old Italianate style house with a crumbling exterior, some see dollar signs a exorbitant amounts of work, I see the house it its glory days, then try to find a way to relive them. When David and I decided to house hunt for the first time, the first house we looked at was 150 years old, gutted and incredible. I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen, and to this day I see the enormous arched pocket doors, marble floors that were preserved and the bathroom that was the size of my whole house marching randomly through my daydreams.  It had been purchased by a man who couldn't finish the challenge and it truly only needed aesthetic finishes. It was still too much for David. No love lost, we kept it simple. However, I was stunned at how the notebooks came out, the scheming started and nothing had changed in 20 years. I was 10 years old, trying to find a way to save $10,000 for a houseboat.

We really don't change deep down from what we are inherently as children. I still get nervous when I face the thought of sitting in the cafeteria by myself, I get anxious about asking people to be my "friends" on Facebook or otherwise for fear of rejection, and I scheme constantly. I can vividly remember all of these associations as a child. All that has changed are my motives.

Recently, I had an idea that I feel so strongly about, I started a notebook. It is a raw and vague idea about arts and underprivileged teens, but it lit something, nonetheless. I realize that there are a million reasons why it is not a good idea to scheme about anything new right now... we have enough new... but I feel so compelled to this idea that I had to take a step back and examine my motives. Which I would NOT have done as a child, of course. My motives aren't selfishly motivated, such as the glory of driving a beautiful houseboat down the canal. I felt a very organic pull toward bettering a community, or at the very least, offering something of myself to help. My best friend, Mindy, always says that she believes her calling in life is "See a need, fill a need" (yes, that is a Robots reference- if you caught that). I guess it wasn't until I had the moment of realization that I was scheming to fill a need that I truly understood what she felt. My passion for the arts and a growing need to leave my mark in a community that needs growth and development spurred a scheme, rather than just a need to save beautiful landmark.  I had never really thought of my schemes as filling a need, but I suppose they always have been in one way or another. The brainstorming has begun, but the biggest difference is that I'm not in a hurry like I was as a child. The schemes are bigger, more involved and incredibly complicated, requiring more patience, and even if they never come to fruition, the scheme itself was good for the soul.

As soon as the notebook came out, I realized what I was doing, and vowed that I would never stop.

Moment of Design Captured...

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