Time Well Spent
I would say the dream of having our reception on this land was first thought of a few months after my parents had moved out to Hurdle Mills, seven years ago. I have always loved the outdoors and the simplicity and calmness it brings. It is like time slows down, summer days seem to cascade into the sweet smells of honey suckle, my Mom working in her garden, and my Dad buzzing around on his tractor (and always somehow finding, and running over and destroying, all the outdoor electrical cords.) All the while, Alex and I were getting deeper in our relationship and it was only a matter of time before we were engaged. I had developed a fondness for my parents’ land and I wanted to be able to have our reception on their property. Nothing rings sweeter to me then to be able to have the reception on a beautiful piece of property that my parents had made so beautiful, colorful, and an inspiring place for people to come together. To me, family is so important for many reasons, and this added to our love as a family. Whether it’s the time we get to spend doing the everyday tasks of life or the exciting and memorable celebrations, the best and most important part is everyone coming together.
After finally convincing my dad that, YES I wanted to have my reception on their property, and not a hotel, I could see our dream was really going to become a reality. We went back and forth on whether to have a tent or for the family to build a barn. To fill you in, Alex became known for his gifts that were were in the form of coupons that would read, “Free table created by Alex,” “Night out of the town,” and the one he gave to my parents for Christmas read, “Free labor on building something for you all.” Needless to say, this was cashed in and it was put to good use. It truly was an honor to see my future husband helping to create something so extraordinary for our love story. So they finally decided to go with the tremendous and most extraordinary project of building the barn. We were excited and nervous about the task ahead of us. I should not have been that surprised that my parents chose to build the barn because they have always put my siblings’ and my dreams in front of anything. Yes, this does feel as though my little-girl dream of getting married with all the bells and whistles I wanted is coming true. What I didn’t know at the time was how special and whole my heart felt as this dream became more meaningful and beautiful that I ever could have imagined.
One morning Mom and Pop wanted to show me an example of what materials would be used and a small glimpse of what the barn would look like. We all took the drive out to Graham to the Builders Discount Store. As we pulled up on this cold, dreary day Mom said, “Meridith, look to your right that’s what it will be like except larger.” What I saw was a 10 by 10 structure with red metal trusses and small, 2x4 posts holding the whole thing up. To say the least, I was a little skeptical that morning of how this barn was going to turn out. I did not want it to be some rinky-dink structure. However; we knew we wanted something built. Thinking back, it is hard to believe I had doubts because I know my parents’ vision and the skill of their hands is always way more beautiful and creative than I could imagine.
On July 22, 2016 the family began the long, tiring, and most meaningful building project of our lives. I can’t fail to mention that this day was one of the hottest and most humid days recorded. This seems to be a trend with us; we would somehow always pick the hottest or coldest weekends to work. However, eager and excited to get started, we did, and the boys plumbed and got the area ready to begin digging the post holes. It is hard to imagine that less than a year ago, this magical place where you are sitting was just a piece of land with four corners making where the structure would be built. As this was going on, we had two toddlers running around pretty much looking like aborigines as they rubbed all the dirt from the Earth to their face, dogs running and taking dips in the pond to stay cool, a baby wanting to be in every part of construction, and the small plan drawn on graph paper that would constantly be redrawn with change orders for a more stunning, unique look.
We shopped in antique stores from Durham to Mebane to find just the right pieces to add to the barn. Towards the end, we had people working and cutting in the dark, sometimes getting a little peculiar as the stress built up. However, I would find myself constantly thinking of how much it meant to have everyone working for the same goal and also the importance of being together. Sometimes in life you get caught in the day to day routines and forget the importance of slowing down and bonding in a new way. This process was time well spent as a family because we were working, revising, and bonding in different ways than we had before. Lunch became a norm as mom worked in the kitchen and laid quilts and blankets on the white couches to keep them from getting dirty from the morning’s saw dust and paint. We laughed together, argued together, took cat naps together and became drenched from rain water as we ran from a sudden summer storm, panicked under stress, and thought “how the hell are we going to finish this.” I can still hear Alex and Josh going through the list of everything that needed to be done. As the foundation was coming together and getting stronger after each weekend, so were we as a family.
Watching the gifts and grit of everyone was such a reward to witness and be a part of. Alex, Josh, and Pop’s true gift in construction is evident as you walk into the barn. Alex can see things and analyze issues and work everything out in his head even before it could go wrong. Sometimes if you blink he has already created a whole wall and had the metal hung up. Josh’s gift is taking a 2x8 and turning it into a beautiful, well created and crafted table, or barn doors. He constantly stayed dedicated to make sure things were as they should be. Kirsten’s helping hand in all the projects was to make sure they were running smoothly and organized. Josh and Kirsten spending their weekends making our dream a reality is the true definition of family. Kalynn’s contribution was her creative and unique style and help designing and creating chalkboards, and making sure we stayed reined in as it was getting close to the deadline. My Dad’s know-how was in everything from operating the tractor to putting up the roof and walls and even setting up the speakers so we could listen to some music. He was always there to be such a helping hand in all aspects of building. My Mom’s eye and her ability to see an extravagant design and know how beautiful something can be even before it has become something is inspiring. Leave her alone too long and you come back to an eloquent garden and waterfall. My future mother-in-law, Lisa, has the special ability to paint in small area and she created beautiful curtains that will look as beautiful as they blow in the wind. Also, we are indebted to friends that came to help towards the end with the final touches and landscaping.
As I think of all the hard work, dedication, creative gifts, and love that went into this barn, it makes me happy to know that with 20 hands you can create something that will be unforgettable as two become one. This will forever be a memory and a true gift to have worked and seen the talent of all those that made this barn a dream come true.