With everyone gone for the day, I wanted some me-time at the house. Also, Jorge had asked that I give him a somewhat exact drawing of the indoor kitchen and the studio and I thought that being alone over there with my sketch pad and a measuring tape would be good.
The sun was setting, Lila was laying in the "front yard" and I breathed it all in. The view from all the beautiful arched windows, each one showcasing a painting-like vista, perfectly (albeit accidentally) framed.
It felt darn good. I could see it.
Then of course The Questions showed up, wagging their tails at the idea of ruining a perfectly good moment. "Will it be dark once the roof is up?" "With the metalwork on the windows ruin the view?" (even though we already addressed both these questions a few days ago, mind you.)
But I was here with an assignment and I was looking forward to it.
I looked for the bag of loose chalk Jorge had used on the first day, excited to get my hands in the highly messy stuff.
Equipped with the white dust and my measuring tape, I began placing the counters in the art studio, the way they have been sweetly waiting in my notebook for weeks.
Each little square is 50 cm. So eight squares should give me 4 meters. Wall to wall.
First, let me say that having moved to the US right out of high school, I never got the hang of whatever it is we call the non-metric system. After 17 years of knowing that 100 cute little centimeters make a meter, and 1000 of these make a kilometer, I could not imagine why in the freaking world anyone would ever talk about 3/8 of anything. It seemed nuts and a bit silly. So I never learned it, really I never had to. The sad part is that in the process, I kind of lost the metric system. It melted out of my brain, somehow. So now, when a sign says: traffic light in 100 meters, I don't have a strong sense of when to expect it.
Here is one thing I do know, however: I measure one and a half meter.s Just like my mom did before she started shrinking a bit "and her capris turned into pants", as she used to tell me. I miss her these days and wish I could share this ride with her, call her in the mornings and tell her about it. My sister kindly reassures me that I am not crazy.
1 meter 50 centimeters. Yup. That's me. And that's handy.
A couple of months ago in a restaurant, as my friend Destiny and I were trying to figure out how long the outdoor area was, I lay down and told her to count how many of me there were. She still talks about it and tells me that when she has a drink, I'm the one who acts drunk.
Back to the studio with the measuring tape.
Something was not lining up. I could not place all eight of my little paper squares on the dirt floor. No way, no matter what. Which messed up all my calculations!
What the heck was going on?
That's when I remembered a question Anselmo had asked me before we even put down the first block: did I want my measurements "libre" or not? Libre means free, and in this case meaning did I want the four meters to include the width of the blocks, or did I want to end up with four meters in between the rows of blocks. I had said that I wanted to include the width of the blocks, so as to leave more space for the patio,
And here I was, my 8 little paper squares not fitting because instead of 4 meters, I had about 3 and a half!
BUT I had a bag full of messy messy messy white powered chalk (and black pants, which made the whole thing that much more satisfying) and so I started drawing the studio, right there on the rich brown dirt. One line at a time, in the quiet of the late afternoon, with the huge undressed, raw windows by my side - and this house which was suddenly becoming mine. A counter here, a bench seat there. A small sink. Yes, I could feel it.
Then the kitchen, just like in my notebook but with 50 centimeters less. The sink, the fridge, the counter, the stove. Also, the beautiful piece of parota wood that Jorge is gifting me that will become a table. The kitchen was waking up. I moved the stove so that two of us (or three, or four) could cook together - because that's what makes a house a home.
When I was done, I stepped back and realized that instead of the big house I had mistakenly thought I has mistakenly designed, I had created a very lovely little casita. That made me smile and when I got home later that night, driving through the dirt roads and the three river beds, I announced this news.
Funny enough, no one was surprised. I guess I was the only one who didn't know.