When I first met B. three years ago, he had already started building his house. I remember being very excited about meeting someone who was really building his own house, and on our second date he brought over the plans for the house to show me, and the third time we met I actually got to see it for myself. The outside walls were up to about eye height - I remember him putting in the lintels over the doorways.
Little did I realise how long a project it would be. We have had a few holidays but on the whole he has worked on this house most evenings after work and pretty much every weekend. So many deadlines have come and gone and the house has changed character so many times. I've seen the walls go up, the roof put on, the windows go in, the water, electricity and heating switched on. I've given my opinion on ideas, have printed off photos of features I've liked, have also helped out on occasion. Anybody who turns up, gets roped in: 'could you just pass me that widget please?' 'which widget is that?' 'the one with the red handle... no that's a screwdriver, no, that's too big, no let me have a look - there, that's what a widget is'. At times it has seemed relentless and endless.
Not this weekend though. Yesterday we cleared a path through the furniture from his old house in one of the barns and got out his bed and mattress. His son and a friend helped to move everything over to the house and get it upstairs, and we hoovered it, got some nice new bedding and put it all together. And although his daughter had already slept in her room a few times, last night we opened a bottle of bubbly and took it to bed, and slept in the new house for the first time.
I fell asleep cuddled up thinking 'every single nail, every single screw, every brushstroke has been done by B.'s hands'. When I told him this morning, he said 'that's a scary thought - what if it all falls down?'. That's typical of him - he doesn't want to hear how clever he is, and if you do tell him, he shrugs his shoulders and says anyone could do it. But he is the one who actually did it. The house isn't finished yet - there is still quite a lot of work to do (in fact, he's building the doors for the kitchen cupboards as I'm typing this). But now that we've actually used it for sleeping in, and had breakfast in bed, that work doesn't seem quite so insurmountable anymore.