Monday, May 24, 2010

The symbology of the picket fence

When I bought my house I knew there were some things I was going to need to fix and/or fix up (okay, LOTS of things). Some of them I've done, some I haven't and some I wasn't planning to fix but have anyway because, well, if you know the history of my house you'll understand what I mean when I saw EWWWWWWW.

Last spring I replaced my mailbox post. There was no way it was going to survive another Connecticut winter. You could practically put your finger through it in places it was so rotten (very much like a couple other things in this house which have yet to be fixed. I'm looking at you garage door.). It took my dad and I about an hour all told I believe. Once we found the right stuff to replace it that is. That was a fun trip to two different home improvement stores.

This spring it was time to replace my fence. Because, well, who wants to be the house on the street where the fence is moldy, rotting and occasionally just falls over. Okay, more than just occasionally. Toward the end the only thing that was holding it together was a twist tie strategically looped around a couple very very rusty nails. I am not even joking.

There was no way that thing was going to last through the summer let alone through another winter. I was embarrassed for me and perhaps that's just because I've become that suburbanite who is apparently very concerned about curb appeal and having a perfect lawn, but damn if I didn't hate the sight of that fence. And damn if I didn't also wonder what my neighbors thought of the fence. Also, when the hell did I become the perfect lawn person? What gives with that?

Anywho, here's the before:


You'll notice in the following pictures that the tulips are gone and the magnolia is finished blooming and everything is much more mature. Yeah. This project took a few weeks. Did you know painting a fence really sucks? And takes forfreakingever? Tom Sawyer totally had the right idea. Sadly none of my "friends" just happened by as I was painting the new fence panels. Maybe next time.

Here's the new fence, the after if you will:


I'd say that's a huge improvement if I do say myself. And I am no longer embarrassed by my fence. My parents and I did a pretty damn good job. And I'm not afraid I'm going to come home from work and find the entire thing collapsed in pieces on the lawn because of a gentle breeze. The fence is waaaaaaay more solid than the old one was even if one of the posts is pretty rotten. I'll deal with that down the road someday when I have to. For now, it's alllll good.

When I started this post I had intended to just throw up some pictures and show you the fruits of my labors and call it a day. But then as I was waiting for the pictures to upload I started thinking (imagine that, me thinking!) about the symbology of the white picket fence and what it means to me.

When I think of picket fences (not the TV show mind you, but the actual fence. The TV show is a whole other story) I think of happy and healthy families. And by families I mean whatever family represents to you. Mom, dad and kids. Husband, wife and dog. Dad, dad and kids. Mom, mom and kids. Mom, mom and dogs and cats. Dad, dad and an iguana. Cue sappy commercial about some product totally unrelated to the happy scene of dad and son playing catch in the yard while the fluffy golden retriever trots around and mom carries some overloaded plate to the picture table where the daughter is eating watermelon. You get the drift.

And then I started thinking about the symbolism behind my fixing my broken down, falling apart, moldy picket fence. Putting up the new fence symbolizes a rebirth in my ideal of a family. Of my family. Getting rid of the old and the broken, that which cannot be salvaged and replacing it with the new while keeping those pieces that, while damaged in some way, aren't broken.

Because damaged doesn't mean broken. Damaged can still be very strong especially when coupled with brand new parts. Damaged adds history and character to things and to people. We're all damaged in some way shape or form, some of us more so than others. That's all part of being human and being alive.

I like to think that my new fence is symbolic of my readiness to start anew. It's time. It's beyond time for that to happen really. Time to leave the past behind once and for all and move forward. To open myself up to the possibilities, to the opportunities that might not yet have presented themselves. To life, to happiness and to my family. My own picket fence dream. The one I've (maybe not so) secretly had for my entire life. The one where me and "the one" are living a happy and healthy and down right (boring) normal life, a life where we're just the lovely couple next door with a couple cats and a dog or two.

That (perhaps sickeningly) sweet life is what the picket fence symbolizes to me. I think perhaps metaphorically speaking my old fence was standing in the way of that dream. Now that it's gone there's nothing to stand in my way. So, here's to all of us realizing our picket fence dreams whatever they may be.

I'm totally lacking in creative energy right now so there aren't any lyrics for this post. Hum yourself a happy little tune to go with your picket fence dream instead okay?


rachael said...

a stretch for a fence song, but I'll keep thinking about it...
Howard Jones' "Hide and Seek"
"...there was a being and he lived on his own
he had no one to talk to and nothing to do.
He drew up the plans, learned to work with his hands,
a million years passed by and his work was done
and his words were these -
Hope you find it in in everything, everything that you see
hope you find it
hope you find me in you."

Jess said...

I'd say that's pretty fitting even if it isn't about a fence specifically. I like it!