May 24th, 2016: a date that will live in infamy. For me, at least. 

At 1:02 pm on Tuesday the 24th, I scraped the last of the tar off the 4,000 square feet of wood flooring in the building that I’m rehabbing in Rockford, IL.  It took 6 months, 33 blades, and a lot of actual blood, sweat, tears. 

For months now, I have been preparing for this day.  My plan? To ceremoniously burn my work clothes in our bonfire pit and take myself out for an afternoon beer.  Or maybe I’d treat myself to some much-needed time at the piano to write a song about the whole ordeal.  Bare minimum, I thought I’d take a long bath that night. 

But I did the opposite: I panicked. I felt suddenly like I was looking at the 1-mile marker of a 26.2-mile marathon.  I was too overwhelmed to do anything but keep forging on. 

So instead of commemorating the end of Tar Wars, I took off my work gloves and went right over to the hardware store for supplies to begin painting.  

I worked almost non-stop for the following 4 days.  I drove myself to tears.  I actually cried so hard I fogged up my work goggles. 

What was wrong? 

Upon reflection, I think I just forgot to step back and pay a few minutes of homage to those long hard months. 

Rituals are more important than they let on.  Schools give graduation ceremonies to pay proper tribute to the significance of a student’s time and efforts.  Baby showers celebrate the significance of bringing life into the world, and birthdays continue that celebration.  Funerals pay homage to the significance of a person’s life, and allow mourners to feel a sense of closure. 

And you know, the final moment of Tar Wars was an equally significant event.  It’s no wonder I wasn’t able to transition out of it smoothly, because I never even paused to nod to its completion. 

So my dear Reader, tomorrow I’m going to burn a pair of work gloves and light off fireworks.  While you celebrate Memorial Day on Monday night, if you happen to hear a litany of Roman Candles going off in northwest Rockford, know this: that is the sound of me properly acknowledging the end of a seriously hellacious era.  See you next Sunday. -Em

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