family

while I was traveling you were scoring goals

In my mind I can see her clearly. The ball bobbing along the surface of the water right in front of her as she rushes toward the goal. Kicking hard. Her arms flying in a frenetic version of freestyle. No one is near but they are swimming hard after her. Quickly she is at the goal. She holds the ball high in her right hand. She is confident. Her eyes larger than the headlights on a bus. Her heart a piston in a truck engine. She freezes the goalie with her stare.

My daughter feigns a cross shot, once, twice, then slams a winner straight on net. The goalie leans meekly in the direction of the ball as it flies past. Goal. In reality, this goalie lost the confrontation the moment she locked into the stare.

I know this is how it happened because I was there this time. But the next game, the last of the year when my daughter scored four goals against a rival school from Ann Arbor, I was in a car driving to Indianapolis for a work meeting. I missed this one just as I had missed another game when she scored three goals.

The past 17 years are like a trail strewn with discarded debris of former travelers with all the events I’ve missed because of work.

The past 17 years are like a trail strewn with the discarded debris of former travelers with all the events–big and not so big–I’ve missed because of “work.” I made sure I was a part of the iconic hallmarks of my daughters’ young childhoods–when they first spoke, when they first walked, when they rode the bus to school for the first time.

Still, there are many times I wasn’t home to put them to bed, where the quiet, giggly conversations yield unexpected insights into how they see the world. Dinners I missed because I was hundreds or thousands of miles away having dinner and drinks with clients either to get more of their business or earn their business in the first place. The nights their mom went over their homework instead of me because I was in a Fairfield Inn or Hampton Inn preparing a presentation for the next day. The mornings I didn’t get to make their lunches and then kiss them before they went to tackle the school day.

There is a kind of rhythm to family. Every family is different. Each family creates its unique rhythm or flow. Built upon the individual routines of each member, over the years it helps define what it means to be a family.  This process, which surely happens outside our awareness, is based, perhaps, on a need to limit uncertainty and increase the sense of security.  An internal manual of family life created by this rhythm becomes the foundation upon which the children build their lives when they grow up and start their own families.

The thousands of hours I spent on the road doing my work have had a kind of cumulative effect to alter this process. They amount to a larger vacancy, a body of absence in the lives of my daughters that cannot be undone but which I am certain impact our relationships today. The unfortunate division of labor between husbands and wives where one parent travels extensively for work seems unnatural in retrospect. It taints memories of my daughters’ early lives like some unforgivable trespass. It hit home for me a few years into my divorce when my youngest said to me, “Dad, you were always gone when we were little.”

The absences undermined my credibility with my daughters. Disrupted the familiar rhythm of my family. They weaken my efforts to stay relevant today as they pull away and individuate the way teenagers are supposed to do.

When they were younger, rather than miss me when I was gone, they seemed to withdraw into the comfort of the routines they established with their mom. They became so at ease with “how things are done around here” that when I was home, I  often felt in the way.

Dad, that isn’t how Mom does it

“Dad, that isn’t how Mom does it,” was a familiar refrain. I was messing up the home system they had devised. It was as if my need to be a part of their lives was an unwelcome and unneeded intrusion. I was the fly in the ointment, the gear gone wonky, the squeaky wheel in a well-oiled machine.

What happened? Little by little I retreated. When I wasn’t on the road,  it started with going to my little makeshift office off the living room to do more work. First I disguised it as a promise just to answer a few emails or return a few calls. Before long work passed into dinner and I would rush in as the girls and my former wife were already well through eating. I would catch just a glimpse of them as they left the table one by one to go play with friends, do homework or watch TV.

At the dinner table an uncomfortable silence took over between my now ex-wife and I as we sat. Our inability to connect deeply on this issue and others would eventually break up our marriage. Soon she would leave to the comfort of her computer and all the busy errands she did to keep the house running.  After a while, I would clear the table and wash dishes and return to my lair in the office to send more emails or make more calls.

Failure to breach the gap into my daughters’ everyday lives.

All to escape my incredible loneliness and my failure to breach the gap into my daughters’ everyday lives.

Eventually it just became more comfortable to stay on the road as much and as long as possible. The road became my second home. As I racked up hotel nights and miles on the highway chasing some version of a career, my relevance in my daughters’ everyday lives faded. Intimate daughter-daddy conversations were replaced with brief phone calls right at bedtime, usually during client dinners. My ex-wife and I only exchanged short sentences and weak “love you’s” before she hung up.

“We’re fine here,” she would say. “You are the one having trouble.”

She was right. I was having trouble. Chasing dual obligations–to provide for my family and be engaged in a way to earn a living, while also being the kind of father I wanted to be–became a zero sum game. The price I paid for trying to do really well in both arenas is that I did really well in neither.

I was running from my inability to integrate into the family rhythm.

I was just running. Running from my inability to integrate into the family rhythm, unable to command a presence at the tableau of their hearts as the rightful patriarch of this castle. I didn’t know how to get back. I felt too guilty to force my way into their routine.

Today my girls are busy teenagers entrenched in their lives: They are cheerleaders, field hockey and water polo players, high school and middle school students with orchestra concerts and art shows and boyfriends and girl friends.

Perfectly normal. Like it should be. But without me.

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emotions, family, figuring it out, health and wellness, relationships

they move on tracks of never-ending light

“Things change all the time, so why do people make such a philosophical to-do that things are constantly in transition?”  — Twyla Tharp

I often walk in different worlds. Since my divorce nearly five years ago and my remarriage, I am a member of three families. It’s awkward sometimes.

There is this family blended from kids from my previous marriage and my new wife’s kids. Then there is this family in which I live most of the time which consists of my wife and I and her two kids. Thirdly, there is the family of my three daughters and me, the one most familiar and the one that feels the most upended by my divorce. This latter family is the one that causes the most discomfort because it serves as a constant reminder of my limits and failures. It is also the one for which I have to deal with my ex-wife, who hates me.

I would not have guessed five years after the fact that crossing to a happier, more fulfilling life would be so burdened by the difficulties of this transition for my three daughters and for me.

I have always felt as if the ground upon which I built my life was never too solid…Never quite settled. Never feeling the full comfort of ritual set down and repeated over time.

In fact, I have always felt as if the ground upon which I built my life was never too solid, like the sand above the water on a beach.  I try to walk or run, but I lose my footing as the sand slides away and I nearly fall.  Never quite settled. Never feeling the full comfort of ritual set down and repeated over time.

My parents forgot my 17th birthday. My mom had been sick with migraines or sinus headaches–a precursor to the more significant and deadly battle she would lose to pancreatic cancer just four years later–and my dad was inexplicably down too. At the last minute my mom emerged from thin the eir darkened bedroom with a credit card, telling me to go get the adidas tennis shirt and shorts I  coveted. I drove the hour to the tennis shop clutching that credit card and eagerly bought the shirt and shorts. I bought myself some socks for good measure too. In the moment, I focused more on the gifts I was buying myself than on the fact that my parents had forgotten my birthday. Years later I realized how deeply I buried this hurt. Kids don’t expect their parents to forget their birthdays.  

Later, after my mom died, well after the doctor grossly underestimated her complaints about the pain in her abdomen, I felt shitty about being angry at my parents for forgetting my birthday. My guilt over my pettiness when my dad lost his best friend and my poor mom succumbed to cancer stayed over the years.

It’s as if the three of us, my dad, my sister and I, retreated to our own private place, all living in the same house but ultimately leading separate lives. There were suddenly no rituals. The rituals we had as a family died with my mom.

It was a transition yet again–from complete family to something resembling a family but not quite whole. It’s as if the three of us, my dad, my sister and I, retreated to our own private place, all living in the same house but ultimately leading separate lives. There were suddenly no rituals. The rituals we had as a family died with my mom.

After mom’s death, I breezed through job after job. City after city became like a playground for me. When I got tired of the kids on my playground, I quit. I chose a new city and a new playground and a new job. I switched careers several times as I sought the perfect fit, hoping to fill a hole left by a deeply held sense of abandonment. People become adults at 21. Not true, at least for me. I was still immature at 21 when Mom died and for many years after. How I lived throughout my 20’s and into my 30″s was surely anything but maturity.

Before I knew it I was married and divorced and living with another woman who eventually would become my second wife.

I operated on an immature emotional plane. When I got uncomfortable, rather than discover what was motivating me, I moved to get rid of the discomfort.  I expected my wife to take care of me emotionally and when she didn’t, I transferred all of my emotional needs to my daughters. At first, this was okay. I could be a great dad and get all of my emotional needs from my kids.  Meanwhile, my relationship with my wife and my marriage crumbled.

I was somewhere approaching 50 before I matured. That’s one long adolescence. My second divorce–another difficult transition–gave me my biggest “aha” moment. Almost like turning pages in a book, I looked at parts of my life and my decisions and realized so much had been about how I responded to discomfort and fear.  I realized I needed to change. I needed to grow up.

We can not stay where we are. Ever. Life is a continual flow whether we realize it or not. Everything is always moving forward. I  didn’t understand that until now.

Our kids don’t stay kids for long. They need parents to be adults if they are to grow as well. Because I’ve seen it in myself, I recognize immaturity and it astounds me how many people walk around with baggage from their childhood.

Our kids don’t stay kids for long. They need parents to be adults if they are to grow well. Because I’ve seen it in myself, I recognize immaturity and it astounds me how many people walk around with baggage from their childhood. It colors everything we do with our kids as well as how we interact in our careers and with friends and our closest relationships. Recognizing my immaturity has been especially helpful in finally building deeply respectful and fulfilling relationships today.

Yet I am amazed at how often I slide into habitually immature thinking. The pause is the greatest tool in my backpack when this happens.

I’ve learned to  recognize transitions by stopping for a moment and breathing. Breathing reactivates the parts of our brains that give us logic. It allows our intuition to meld with right thinking, as the Buddhists might say. Without taking that breath, without pausing to slow things down, I react as a kid rather than respond as an adult

I’ve learned that life is about discovering and refining who we are–our wants and hopes and fears. We are always in transition. I used to think that transitions meant something was wrong, that the world was off kilter and I needed to right things again so that I felt comfortable. It fascinates me that I have been so fearful of transitions when I am even more fascinated by the concept of the adjacent possible. The adjacent possible is all the potential outcomes that might follow depending on which choice we make when faced with a particular obstacle or challenge. We cannot know all the potential great things that might happen yet because we have not yet passed through the door right in front of us. Think how different your life might be if even one choice in the past you made differently. It is both tantalizing and scary, because for most of us uncertainty is uncomfortable.

“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” –Nikki Giovanni

We expect certain things in life to be constant. The sun rises everyday. The four seasons pass. We run out of milk. And our parents stay married.

Imagine how divorce must have felt for my daughters and for my new wife’s kids. We expect certain things in life to be constant. The sun rises everyday. The four seasons pass. We run out of milk. And our parents stay married.

When one of the constants in our lives proves not to be, we are in transition. I did a lousy job preparing my kids for life and helping them through the transition from mom and dad being together to mom and dad being together with someone else. I had a hard enough time handling me. My poor daughters had to do a lot themselves.

There is, however, hope. My youngest sees the upside of the divorce–that she will be better equipped to handle rough patches in her life and possibly to avoid some of the things that led to my divorce. Maybe she and her sisters will be able to leave adolescence much earlier than I. At the right time and intact. They all show signs of doing a better job than I did.

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The title of this essay is borrowed from a song by the post-rock group This Will Destroy You. They are currently on tour and recorded a live album from one of their concerts in Reykjavic, Iceland. Here is their page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thiswilldestroyyou

This Will Destroy You is one of a couple post-rock bands in which I find great joy in listening along with Explosions in the Sky, God is an Astronaut, Signal Hill, Mogwai, Hammock, Tristeza. Thanks always to my friend Keefer to sharing his headphones  so long ago and turning me onto post-rock.

emotions, family, figuring it out, health and wellness, inspiration, psychology, relationships

raining world champion

“I’m a good man, with a good heart, had a tough time, got a rough start. But I finally learned to let it go…I’m hoping, knowing somehow, my shadow days are over.” – John Mayer, Shadow Days

John Mayer played this morning on iTunes. Though there are plenty of lyrics in Shadow Days, I found myself focusing on just a few, particularly the line, “I’m hoping, knowing somehow, my shadow days are over now.” 

On the car ride to school the other day, my 11-year-old daughter said how my divorce from her mom would make her a more aware person. If she were to go through similar hard times with some future husband, she would know better how to move through them. She said experiences like the divorce help teach her how unexpected turns are part of life and knowing how to deal with them is important.

This exchange is exactly what a parent in a divorce hopes for. The growth from my youngest daughter shows that our children can weather the shit parents do in their quests to find happiness and maintain identities, especially when a marriage ends.

I told her I was enormously proud of her. That is precisely why I have come to value difficulties. We can’t stop them from occurring. All experiences are life. It is we who label them “bad” or “good.” My daughter’s observations reminded me of this.

I told her I was enormously proud of her. This is precisely why I have come to value difficulties. IMG_0991We can’t stop them from occurring. All experiences are life. It is we who label them “bad” or “good.” My daughter’s observations reminded me of this.

She said she had noticed that both her mom and I seemed happier now than when we were married to each other. In fact, she went on that both of us seemed better now than at any time in the five-year transition from married and unhappy to these new lives we lead today. It’s been a messy road and my daughter’s sense that things have turned out okay was a revelation.

She said, “You seem better now because before you were chunkier and had long hair and were sad. Now you are thin and fit and you seem much better with (my wife). And Mom seems happier with (her boyfriend) too.”

Her comments felt like an affirmation of something I have noticed over the past year or so: I am emerging from my own dark time–my own shadow days–of difficulty, anger, immense hurt and guilt.

It hasn’t been that I haven’t felt sadness occasionally, even the kind that sometimes stopped me in my tracks (and I’ve written about it here). Who doesn’t ever experience emotional pain, disappointment and epic failure in their lives?  I have tried to be philosophical about it most of the time but sometimes life has felt endlessly and relentlessly difficult. A big bag of doodoo.

But imagine for a moment that it is possible to actually lollygag through life, bouncing like a butterfly from one great experience after another, never shedding a tear, in a fairy tale world where nothing bad ever happens. Doesn’t it make sense that butterfly person’s happiness would be muted eventually because only good experiences would be the norm? This butterfly person wouldn’t know the difference between one experience or another because everything would be felt as equally happy.

Without failure, how can someone know success? Without disappointment, how could someone know joy? Without tears, how could there be sunshine?  The sameness of every experience would have to lead to despair. 

My youngest daughter’s sense that bad things are as normal a part of life as good made me do some reframing of my own. I’m certain good things happened in my childhood and throughout my adult life. But if you were to ask me, I would not characterize my life until now as happy. Most of my memories as a child are of sad times, hurt, disappointment. And as an adult, I tend to see my past as failure, missteps, things not turning out. In fact, I was like a butterfly of despair–I only knew bad experiences.

The work of reframing I have done over the past couple of years has led me to view life with more balance. 

Experiences are just experiences. How we choose to frame them determines our happiness…It’s as if all the work I’ve done to become more present, to understand more clearly and to move forward..has essentially done what I’ve hoped for.

Today, it feels like I am becoming whole. This awareness–that experiences are just experiences and how we choose to frame them determines our happiness–has been hard-won. It’s as if all the work I’ve done to become more present, to understand more clearly and to move forward–all the books I’ve read and the therapy sessions and the late night conversations with my wife, Elin–has essentially done what I’ve hoped for. Almost without notice, all this effort to improve has incrementally made me better, more able to choose happiness over sadness.

My long period of shadow days, years in the making and years ending, appears to have passed. My awareness allows me to see, like my daughter, that bad events are temporary and not always caused by me. I can take a healthy amount of responsibility and let go. My bad experiences have even helped me grow. They have allowed me to be better equipped to see happiness or peace as a choice.

I can choose love.

I can choose to feel happy. Alive. Special. Talented.

I can choose to feel badly about something I did and then move on. I can acknowledge my responsibility and feel guilty and then forgive myself for being flawed.

This might be automatic for some; it has been anything but for me.

“It sucks to be honest and it hurts to be real. But it’s nice to make some love I can finally feel.  Hard times let me be.”

My shadow days are over.

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emotions, family, figuring it out, relationships

six days at the bottom of the ocean

I have failed as a father and ruined my children.

I have done so poorly and with such regularity, one could call my shortfall as a parent epic.

Parenting done well is among the most difficult endeavors anyone will encounter. It’s up there with being president of a country, which you could say is a little like parenting a nation, except you have a few more people who refuse to go to bed on time and who need time outs.

To be sure, failure is a regular part of parenting for everyone, not just me. That’s  not much comfort. I try my best but still make one mistake after another raising my three daughters and two step-kids. It’s like a science experiment that spans 21 years, with collateral damage and ruined test tubes scattered about.

Parenting is up there with being president of a country, which you could say is a little like parenting a nation, except you have a few more people who refuse to go to bed on time and who need time outs.  

As parents we read Brazelton and talk to other parents, even our own, who also failed often and magnificently, looking for the short cuts to perfect children. But a funny thing happens once we get into it. Once they stop being babies and become real people, it’s as if all that knowledge is wiped from our brains. At least it was for me.

When my girls were little, I knew I was going to be one of those dads who broke down barriers, who went against the norm. I was going to be so close to my daughters that every dad would be jealous and every mom would wonder why they married their guy.

When they were babies, I just had to grab a  bottle and when they wailed, wrap their fleece blankets and my arms a little tighter around them. I would whisper silly sounds. They would soon be cooing in their blanket cocoons.

I could almost always make them laugh.  I’d drop down on the floor as they crawled and make goofy faces and roll around and they would giggle until they fell asleep. When I came home from road trips, they would  be in my lap, telling me in their little girl voices all that had happened over the previous couple of days. I felt significant, like a real father. At night I used to wake and go into their rooms and watch them sleep. I’d listen to their soft, rhythmic breathing. And the world would be right.

At night I used to wake and go into their rooms and watch them sleep. I’d listen to their soft, rhythmic breathing. And the world would be right.

Now the parenting territory is like scorched earth. How do I know? My gauge is how my kids behave and how they treat others, including me. My daughters’ difficulties the past couple of years seem symbolic of my inadequacy as a father. I don’t blame their mother, whom my wife reminds me is at least half of the equation. I take blame because, ironically, I believe I am more conscious and aware and therefore have greater culpability.

My oldest daughter hates me. We have barely spoken since she blew up in my house at my now wife and I three years ago.  She has had it exceedingly difficult since her mom and I divorced in 2009. She’s lost friendships. She lashes out frequently at schoolmates and her younger sisters. Her mom once broadcast a fight between she and my oldest on FaceTime just so I could see. It was just like watching one of those family breakdown reality shows on TV I despise so much.

My other two don’t have their older sibling’s volatility, but are nevertheless also a challenge. Because we haven’t had the same conflict, I have occasionally mistaken this for an invitation to have one of those cliched daughter-dad talks. You know– school or life or music or, yes, boys. First I get the look, which I consider a victory because they rarely look up from their smartphones. Sometimes I say things just to see if they are listening. If I persist, I usually get a one word answer and then they return to the important stuff on Instagram.

Meanwhile, I retreat, sullen and defeated, with a heart that aches.

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Parenting has been one continuous opportunity to mess up. When my daughters needed space, I barged in to talk. When they wanted to talk, I was often distracted or unavailable.

My divorce has only clarified how badly I parent. They live most of the time with their mom, who also hates me by the way, and though it’s only slightly longer than 10 minutes door to door, I might as well live in New Zealand. Sometimes I’ve played hardball and made them stay at my house. That made them miserable. Other times I’ve been advised to “let go of the rope” and let my girls have a say in things. This usually has meant I don’t get to see them.

 

Sometimes I say things just to see if they are listening. If I persist, I usually get a one word answer and then they return to the important stuff on Instagram.

 

Now I have two more kids for whom I feel responsibility and whom I’ve come to care about deeply, my step-children. I’m going to stop using the term “step-” because it carries so much baggage. They’re kids. Now, they’re my kids too.

I’ve seen divorced couples who actually make it work. These people set aside their lives and dedicate everything to their kids in the difficult transition of ending a marriage. Which is probably why I have failed so greatly. I used the opportunity excommunicating from my marriage to completely change the way I approach life, including parenting.

In the past couple of years, as I reflected on how things have gone, I felt that I had missed opportunity after opportunity for success and growth. After the divorce, I was like a rubber band stretched to the limit, then sprung the other way. I became obsessed with fixing my past. In the course of moving forward from my former marriage, I have been accused of moving away from my kids. True, I have changed my approach to parenting, trying to be more paternal, a little more distant and less compliant, because I have come to believe my kids need a strong male figure in their lives, not the doormat I once was.

I was like a rubber band stretched to the limit, then sprung the other way. I became obsessed with fixing my past.

When I was a married I was exceedingly needy of my kids. My ego was paper thin. I used my children for validation because, well, I needed it and couldn’t get it from my ex-wife. You might think I’m being too hard on myself, but let’s be honest. Just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we are also mature. I see so many, including my ex-wife, run around with their egos exposed, seeking validation like heroin addicts needing a fix.

Healthy people who look in the mirror and see exactly who and what they are deserve respect. They see the flaws and the good and accept both. As my wife says, healthy people don’t spend a lot of time feeling guilty. They accept the right amount of responsibility for their choices. Not an ounce more.

Healthy people also keep moving forward. I have built a life-long habit of ruminating over my past and it always makes me feel like crap. I indulge in guilt. I accept blame for everything even when I shouldn’t.

My ego was paper thin. I used my children for validation because, well, I needed it and couldn’t get it from my ex-wife.

Now I see how burdensome it is to ask of little hearts and minds. As I try to take a healthier approach to parenting, I seem a stranger to them. They are unsure of me because of this inconsistency between the way I was when I was married to their mom and how I try to be today. Who wouldn’t be a little freaked out?

My intent is honorable. I want my children to be happy. I especially want them to grow into well adjusted adults, prepared to make it though the challenges of life. Intent is good, but it only goes so far. We parents can’t keep honorably messing up our kids and wash our hands of it even if our intentions are good.

I won’t ever stop trying to figure out parenting. I’ll probably keep failing too.  Meanwhile, my kids will move toward adulthood and I will mean less to them. Until, that is, they have their own kids and will fail and fail and fail on their own.

IMG_0469Maybe that’s love. Maybe that is parenting. You keep trying and trying even though you epically screw up.  What else is there to parenting–and life–but one series of experiments where we mix the ingredients, see the results, and try something new to get different results. Or keep doing the same damn thing and ruin our kids.

Maybe failure is the wrong word. Maybe I’m a moron for expecting parenting to  feel good.

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The title of this essay is taken from a song from one of my favorite post-rock bands, Explosions in the Sky. My wife and all my kids don’t like them much, so I listen when they are not around or put on headphones.

Great reading lately, including this post from a new favorite, James Altucher. Here is one he wrote about comedian Louis C.K.’s genius: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2014/02/louis-ck-and-the-hare-krishnas-used-this-one-trick-for-success/.

Thank you for reading.

creativity, design, emotions, family, figuring it out, inspiration, relationships

glass realms

“I have often wondered what it is an old building can do to you when you happen to know a little about things that went on long ago in that building.” – Carl Sandburg.

We have a book we keep on our coffee table. It’s a  book on Midcentury home design I gave my wife as a Christmas present a few years ago. She had been coveting this book for a decade before we got together but never got it.

It is beautifully done as coffee table books go. It has the kind of size and heft to make it feel serious enough to be front-and-center. Not exported to a bookshelf in some obscure corner of the house, noticeable only by its spine. It is fresh with hundreds of photographs of sophisticated, thoughtful living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and backyards. The photos are so well done they give you a sense of being in the very rooms depicted.

This book has come to represent much more than its magazine-quality photos and smart text. It’s become one of the few material things I can unabashedly claim to covet.  Sometimes we covet and hold onto over time when other things we let go.  As my wife and I stroll across the pages for the umpteenth time on a Sunday morning,  drinking coffee together in a cliched picture of suburban living ourselves, we see way more than cute houses belonging to someone else. Inside this book, we see the lives of others co-mingled with our own. Some sort of weird design connection with the owners.  It is as if we are there, at their dining tables, in the process, discussing the renovations with them. We see couples wrangling with crucial design decisions with their architects and building partners. We see them agonizing over niggling details, driven to get things just as they want. We imagine they carry images of their completed renovations–the pictures that may have wound up in this book.

In these amazing homes, my wife and I see possibility.

This  coffee table book is really about all the “what ifs” in our lives. All the things that could be. We refill our coffees again and the rooms dance in our imaginations. We measure our spaces with new, ever more discerning eyes, evaluate our furniture and envision our own design and build process. We talk about our ideas and how different elements might fit together.

What I also realize is this book represents hope. Hope that one day soon we can be engaged in the sublime process of taking the existing and making it better, more livable, more entertaining and interesting. Buried among the dozen or so houses depicted here, we imagine blueprinting our own design, then shoveling the dirt,  hammering walls,  painting and then, moving in. It is enormously satisfying for my wife and I taking projects from concept to completion, from pictures in our minds to setting our heads down on  pillows in our newly completed bedroom. A bedroom fit for an expensive Midcentury coffee table design book.

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The title of this essay was borrowed from a song of the same name by one of my favorite bands, This Will Destroy You. You can learn more about the band on their Facebook page: This Will Destroy You