Renaissance Man

My husband, Jeff, is a man of many hobbies. Since we first met, I’ve been amazed at his breadth of interests and his ability to master nearly anything he sets his mind to. He’s smart and unconventionally, athletic. An unbeatable combination that ensures he will be successful at whatever he tries, with some effort and focus. Both of which, he has in abundance.

office clean up

A software engineer, by trade, he started teaching himself to code at an early age, using dial-up modems, Compuserve accounts, and early AOL (yes, children – we’re just that old) and he’s continually kept his skills current. To do this in previous decades it meant he was always buying books – thick books – on new versions of this language or that. New tools that would help whatever employer he had at the time, or just peaked his interest. Our house is full of these books, but luckily in the ensuing years, all this has become open-source and readily available online.

I’ve spent weeks cleaning out our office as much as I could. But I didn’t feel comfortable disposing of old hardware or any of these old computer books. Who knew if they might be needed. So I’ve been waiting for Jeff to sort through them and make decisions, all the while profoundly aware that time is starting to speed up and we need to tackle it.

Today was that day, and we filled two recycling bins and a full, large garbage can with office schlock. We found other nonsense things from old white elephant parties. But as we speak, Jeff is spending this afternoon digitizing our old videos, transferring important documents from a pile of old hard drives, and scanning photos. I was thrilled that once he got started going through drawers, shelves, cabinets and the closet, he wasn’t resistant to pitching stuff. He just quietly dug out a couple of terabyte drives and got started.

His work resembled an archeological dig. Layer by layer, he unearthed change jars from over the years – old Gatorade bottles filled with money. While he continued his exploration in pith helmet and shovel, I rolled coins from around the world. Money from some of our adventures – Iceland, The Philippines, Mexico, and others. Over $300 USD later and those little coins will start working for us rather than performing as a paper weight or living at the bottom of old boxes in a closet. The office looks amazing – and empty! And my blood pressure has gone down significantly – one less thing,

Now, we just need to start on the garage. Jeff has lived an adventurous life where in his spare time he’s become an experienced white water kayaker, river guide, fly fisherman, off road motorcycle enthusiast, and he has built jeeps and trucks from the ground up. He can weld and machine his own car parts. And he sews his own gear for camping and his motorcycle adventures – like the one he took to Alaska and the Arctic Circle.  He even bought a piano to teach himself how to play.

Jeff is the kind of guy who, I believe, can do anything. This has caused friction in our house at times. Like when I suggested he build us a new deck or that we roof our own house.

‘I have no idea how to do either of those things.’ he said, like I was crazy.

‘It’s OK. We’ll buy a book. We both know how to read.’ I replied – knowing he can actually do anything.

We bought the books and together we did both of those things, and they turned out great. Afterwards, he admitted he was a little scared about tackling big projects, not knowing where to start. I laughed.

‘I knew you could do it – I wasn’t worried for a second.’ And I wasn’t.

So our attention is turning towards the garage, filled with the remnants of all of these activities – including a truck in a state of half repair, kayaks, rafts, motorcycle, camping/fishing equipment, and tools. Lots and lots of tools. But its late Sunday. And I’m declaring it a win. The office is done, the books are in the recycle bin. and we’ll leave the garage until next weekend. It will be interesting to see how Jeff edits his interests in moving to Spain. But I know one thing that makes me very happy. The truck won’t make the cut, but I’ll be taking my Renaissance Man with me – guaranteed.


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