I once was a perfectionist, but building out a van cured me of that.
I was living in a condo in Florida, on the third floor overlooking the golf course, some tennis courts and part of the swimming pool – amenities I never used. My assigned parking space was on the other side of the building about as far as possible from the condo. Although I did some work in the parking lot, it became very clear very soon I needed a workshop.
I had worked for a Unitarian Universalist congregation for many years and had become a member. Another member, Dave, a wonderful woodworker, had to move and gave up his workshop to the congregation where it was promptly installed in the garage of the administration building. Dave’s generosity was my opportunity.
Dave had been working with a new member, Bob, on a large table/storage unit for the Sanctuary’s lanai and were planning to start another one when Bob left to go camping. In New Hampshire. In January. Who doesn’t love camping in New Hampshire in January? So while Bob was gone, I had the workshop and Dave’s expertise.
Dave was an educator before his retirement and respected my wish to do this myself. He gave me some advice and showed me some products that might come in handy, but overall let me make my own mistakes. Thanks Dave! I learned a lot from my mistakes. I cured myself of perfectionism while I was at it.
I struggled to put everything together: windows, floor, electric, ceiling cabinets, bed, storage. I had more building to do and not enough time to do it. Bob was returning soon and they would be starting the next large project. Dave stepped in and asked me if he could help. He loved building things and I would be doing him a favor if he could make something for me. I caved. I showed him my plan for the “kitchen” counter. I had cut the top with the hole for the sink, but the cabinet beneath it was needed. One side was an open cabinet, but the other side was to have drawers. I told him he didn’t have to do drawers, just cubby holes. “Drawers are too hard,” I said. Dave replied, “Drawers are easy, we’ll have Bob do them!” Thanks Bob!
I’m reminded of that YouTube video of a young woman who kept saying how easy it was to build out and live in a van. Her stepfather did all the carpentry and electrical – it’s easy! Her grandmother did all the sewing – it’s easy! Needless to say the comments were scathing. (In her defense, she did make the video and was just trying to be encouraging.)
While Dave was building the cabinet, I concentrated on selling my condo. In the end, I sold it to the woman I had bought it from 14 years earlier. That’s another story, but the closing date was set.
Bob returned and the drawers went in. He even made a small over-the-counter cabinet for me. I watched him work. He always thought many steps ahead. Even though he worked slowly and carefully, it came together quickly. That’s perfection.
Only a week to go. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the storage cabinets, but it was more important to build the bed platform so I could store my folding bicycle, inflatable kayak and camping gear underneath. (I prioritized my toys over practical things like clothing.)
I cut the frame the platform was to sit on. When I put it together, it wasn’t quite square. Good thing I’m no longer a perfectionist. I screwed the frame into the wall and floor knowing the platform was larger. Dave came by and offered to help lift the platform onto the frame with me.
When we fit it into the space, Dave noticed the frame wasn’t square. “But it isn’t square,” he says. “I know,” I reply, but it won’t matter because there is going to be a bedskirt over it and no one will see. He looks at the frame. His eyebrows come together and he frowns. He looks at me and down again at the frame. He clears his throat and says, “Just don’t tell Bob.” That was easy…