Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cinderella Moment

When shopping for my house, I made a list of 'must-have' features that included porch, fireplace and hardwood floors. The house I eventually shelled out the ducats for not only had all the features on my list, it had two fireplaces – one on the main level in what is my dining room, and another in the partially finished basement. Sweet.

Oddly, as much as I wanted a fireplace, in two years in the house, and in spite of the presence of firewood and manufactured artifical logs that crackle and burn cleaner, there has not yet been a single fire lit, because I thought it would be wise to have the chimney checked out first, and I just never got around to that step. I thought about it many times – usually on the cold nights that are perfect for a fire I was afraid to light because I had not yet found my own personal chimney sweep. (C'mon, there's no chimney sweeper gang prancing through the city like in Mary Poppins.) And in the same two-year period, I was also planning to clean out the basement fireplace, which had some ashes in it from the previous owner. I know what you’re thinking, and it's true, I probably won’t be winning any Martha Stewart awards any time soon.

In any event, Boyfriend got home from work early last night and we were watching 30 Rock DVDs, sipping on Jack and coke and chillaxin. After a while, he suggested we hang out in the basement/man cave, a partially finished space that might someday be a master bedroom suite, but which, for now, is the storage spot for a very proper and formal living room set in need of a good home, and where he practices his electric guitar and he and Junior play video games. I visit the basement only to do laundry, so our trip downstairs would be an interesting change of venue.

While Boyfriend played his newest action-packed, testosterone laden video game (involving a voice over constantly barking orders at “Ramirez”), I was imagining the space with French doors where the sliders are now, picturing where new walls might go, redesigning the staircase, and arranging furniture we don’t own to maximize enjoyment of the fireplace. And while I was ruminating on the sweet room I think I want, I decided to (finally) clean out the fireplace.

It turned out the ashes were about three inches deep, and while filling four WalMart bags with someone else’s ashes, it dawned on me that I was like Cinderella. Granted, there was no evil stepmother or stepsisters, no fairy godmother, I’m not exactly a young maiden, and my Prince Charming was already present, so the parallel was limited to the domestic labor part, but hey, it was my night of Tennessee whiskey-fueled imaginings and flights of fancy. The Boyfriend Prince and I were sharing space, each content in an activity, and I gotta say, I found my chosen activity somewhat enjoyable (maybe it was the Jack Daniel’s), and felt like an archeologist while examining a few pieces of curved metal, some long nails and screws, and a corner bit of cardboard that had somehow survived the fiery fate of whatever it was once a part of. And I never knew there were so many colors of ash – white, brown, light gray, dark gray, black. Enjoyable and educational.

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