by Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti LICSW, MSW
The first time I saw a “Little Free Library” I swerved the car. My heart went pitter-patter. It hit all my high notes: Books! A doll house! Community building!
I wanted one. Had to have one. Summer was the perfect time.
I started browsing the internet. Found many basic, uninspired models that simply would not do. Then, I found the fancy Pinterest models with Victorian detailing, cedar shake shingles, and all the goo-gahs that make me go ga-ga.
I asked my neighbor Lee, a retired construction manager to help me build a tricked-out, double-decker one and she very kindly agreed. Now in my very last blog post I know, I know, I vowed to not take on any ambitious projects for the rest of the summer, but, well, this is different. This is construction. Construction is magic. And I’m totally allowed to break my self-imposed rules for magic.
We head off to Home Depot for supplies. Lee and the Home Depot guy start talking supplies and he made a “there-there-little-lady” type comment. Immediately my hackles go up like a triceratops in battle. Tiny, silver haired Lee has been doing and managing construction since the time this guy was potty trained. She has managed home construction projects of several unnamed local billionaires so if she says a certain type of material is named X and not Y, she’s the credible source in my book.
I zoom into judgment role. This guy is an idiot. He’s a sexist. But then I stop and actually listen.
When he finds out what we are buying plywood for he tells us about seeing a segment on the news about someone whose little library vandalized. He gives us a giant discount on materials to help us out because he believes in civic projects and knows that his employer wants to be supportive.
Suddenly, my self-designated enemy has become an ally, guiding us through the aisles of the store as we pick out hardware and trim and roofing.
Fast forward through a montage of measuring, re-measuring, marking, ripping, hammering, drilling, and whining (me). We now have the library box built and I’m in the process of priming and painting.
Lee has proven to me yet again that construction is the hardest job in the world, requiring ridiculous amounts of geometry, muscle, and a level of perfectionism I devote my life to avoiding.
And the Home Depot guy has reminded me that when I judge someone I don’t know I miss an opportunity to feel that invisible thread that joins us all together.
And to top it all off….Now I have the sweetest library in the ‘hood.