Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Sweaty Gift

My husband ordered us a Christmas gift, something to soothe our tired muscles after long days of remodeling: an infrared sauna.

I’m completely on board with the concept: romantic evenings with the two of us in our cedar box, the light therapy wheel causing our skin to glow red, yellow, blue, while we listen to a Jim Brickman playlist on the built-in MP3 speakers, chatting while we sweat out impurities.

No running outside in the rain to climb into a hot tub to find the heater broken and mold circulating through the jets. Unlike a traditional sauna, no worries about steam burns or shorting coils.

This is paradise in a cube measuring just 53 by 53 inches and requiring just one dedicated 20-amp circuit. It could easily fit in our house. Where? The basement.
All I had to do was move everything we’d stored and then seal the masonry walls. My husband would run the wiring.

Sure, we could do that—after we finished trimming the den walls and tiling a hearth, and rewiring, putting up sheetrock and painting the downstairs office that we have stripped down to the studs—all in order to have carpet installed. Carpet we ordered back in July, carpet sitting in a warehouse with helpful employees who call us every few weeks to find out when they can schedule our install.

The underground wall of the office sealed with masonry paint

If we worked hard we’d be ready for both carpet and sauna in January.

The trouble is we were so excited by our vision of relaxing and the sale price at Home Depot that my husband clicked the order button and the sauna is on a truck right now. For the interim my husband suggested we set it up in the spare bedroom upstairs, a room we use as his closet, the station for cat food and litter box, a room already full with a twin bed and assorted extra furniture.

I didn’t want to rearrange everything in that bedroom, and I suspected the chance of relocating the sauna to the basement once it was in use was slim. So I began clearing out the basement, hauling the shelves and the boxes they held into our laundry room. 

Once the basement was cleared I thought I ought to paint the cement wall with masonry paint, like I did in the office last week: A moisture barrier is always a good idea.

I sat in the basement, waiting for Kevin to finish drilling holes for wiring in the office. I watched him through the support posts on the wall stripped of its sheetrock. Watching him through the slatted openings, I thought about how lovely it would be to take out the posts and make one big room.

He finished and looked at me.

“I’m thinking,” I said.

“About what?” he asked.

“Tearing out the wall.” Something in me delights in demolition.

The cleared basement and chair where I had my brilliant idea!

Kevin jokes that I will do anything to get out of painting. But of course, I still sealed the masonry. And I will paint: After he firs out the basement. After he moves the bathroom wall into the basement a few feet to install a bathtub. (We’re abandoning the hideous shower. It will become a coat closet).

But I won’t need to paint the wall that’s coming down in our new master bedroom.

Yes, a real master bedroom with an attached master bathroom! A master bedroom that won’t feel claustrophobic with our king-sized bed. A master bedroom with enough closet space to keep his and hers clothes in the same room.

It was not part of our original vision for the house, and that I think is one of the reasons I’m so enamored with the idea.

We were going to leave the bedrooms as is because we couldn’t think of a good way to make a master bedroom on the main floor. But here we are, thinking outside the floor-plan and wall-box, taking a non-room and incorporating it into the house to make room for our sauna (essentially a box).

One thing leads to another: re-rewiring, figuring out plugs, lights, closets (there aren’t any downstairs right now), paint, and wondering what to do about the carpet, since we didn’t order enough for this extra room and the dye lots might not match, and so on.

This wall is coming down and new master bedroom will rise here.

I write this while the second coat of masonry paint dries and my husband is unloading his truck after a Home Depot trip returning items we don’t need and buying others for this new project. He says he thought of the idea first, and even mentioned it to me, and that I dismissed it. Which is probably true.

I know this about myself: I’m much more excited about and compliant with ideas that are my own. So, if it wasn’t mine, my mind made it so. That way my heart and energy can follow. 

The sauna is in transit an inspirational and sweaty gift that has already changed my life.

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