As a kid growing up in New York City I was much better at inflicting damage in homes than repairing them. My parents have lived in the same apartment building for almost 40 years and the same super has managed the building for most of those 40-years. Therefore, like most NYC renters, whenever something popped up in the building, we called our super. That our super had grown into such a close family friend that he was practically a relative, made it almost as if my mother was asking my father or my uncle to fix something whenever she called on Fernando. And since I was more interested in memorizing the stats for the 85-86 Yankees or Mets than mastering any home repair skills, it quickly became apparent, that like my dad, I was pretty useless for anything beyond changing a light bulb. Over time I learned how to do more than change a light bulb, but not more–I mean let’s not get it twisted–no one’s ever confused me with Bob Villa.
When I bought my apartment in NY a few years back one of the things that I looked forward to was attending to some home repairs. A trip to Lowe’s to buy a washer/dryer quickly stripped me of these aspirations. As the salesman began running through various warranty options, I looked at the price tag for the machines once again and realized that this machine cost almost ten times as I spend on laundry a year, plus I’d be burdened with power and maintenance costs. Saying goodbye to that washer/dryer I vowed to keep it simple, or as a friend would later tell me “always remember fewer moving parts means fewer chances for things to break”. Thus my biggest handyman breakthrough as a first time home owner was essentially, I rather not be all that handy.
Three years later, now residing in the suburbs and having to factor in that my decisions don’t just impact me, I am having to make a critical shift and upping my home repair skills. One way of putting this transition is that I’ve morphed into my family’s Fernando. In less than three weeks of our new house, I’ve done more repair work than I’ve done in the previous 30 years of apartment living. Among other things, I’ve installed new power cords on a washing machine and dryer, unclogged drains, and fixed some delinquent kitchen cabinet hooks.
These were just the starter tasks to get my bearings around the house and local hardware stores. There about 3-dozen other items awaiting my attention on the “honey-do” list. Completing each job has brought a sense of reward, and it’s delightful to have a tangible accomplishment to turn to at the end of a day. Whereas before, I’d be delighted by having written a page, read a book, or revised a syllabus, now I’m overjoyed after fixing Turtle Biscuit’s swing or a successful trip to home depot.
Speaking of Turtle Biscuit, she’s been a great companion as Dad has embarked on these home repair adventures. I am looking forward to enlisting her help in future projects as she gets older. And whereas before I was always quick to declare that my child will speak multiple languages, I am now similar elated by the fact that my daughter will know how to operate a drill (and then some).