[I wrote the following descriptive essay for English 199 and received a decent grade, so I’m going to share it with whoever (aka no one) wants to read it. Please criticize it in the comments if you do read it!]
It’s a regular occurrence; I’m sitting at my desk when an idea pops into my head. It’s something I can make, I’m sure of it. The idea could be anything: a picture frame for a photo nestled under some loose papers, a TV wall-mount to free up some precious desk space, or perhaps just a larger desk. Once the idea comes, I must attempt to create it. Without a second thought I head outside towards the garage.
Made of white cinder block and protected with steel bars on all of the windows, from the outside peering in, some may think the garage is a small prison. Even with a key, getting inside isn’t entirely effortless. Considerable force must be applied to the key in a full rotation, almost requiring a full-body effort. Sometimes I contemplate whether the key will finally snap as I hear the pins inside the lock reluctantly screech into position. Surprisingly, after being unlocked, the heavy steel door gracefully opens to reveal the treasures inside. Tools, lots of tools, running wall to wall and rising ten feet high. The inside is still a bit dark until I flip the fluorescent lights on; they flicker quickly for a few seconds before going fully bright to expose dust particles glistening down from the ceiling. Usually there are tools scattered across the workbench alongside a project waiting to be finished. On the floor, sawdust, a seemingly useless scrap that is now absorbing a spill from the last oil change. At the far end of the garage where the lighting is dim lies the excess wood and steel from past projects. They are more scraps which will be given a purpose, eventually.
With a blueprint in mind, I head towards the scrap materials. I can usually find something that fits the build when I quickly scan through the pile. The roughly cut mahogany contrasts sharply against the black, slender lengths of steel. Occasionally what I need from the pile is simple, like a small block of walnut I used to make a pen holder, or a piece of oak I found to make a cane for my grandfather. Eagerly, I push and pull the material around. The cold metal shrills loudly against the bare concrete; meanwhile, dreary thuds from the large pieces of wood echo throughout the rest of the garage. When I have the material I am looking for in my hand, I have my next project. After a quick sketch in a curled notepad on the workbench, and jotting down some rough measurements along the way, it’s time to start building.
While I am woodworking, sawdust may muster bitterly under my breath as I tear through a length of oak. At any rate, when the dust settles, the air is flooded with the scent of an entire forest. The atmosphere is quite different when working with steel. Racing through a piece of flat iron with the angle grinder can leave a magnificent waterfall of sparks scattering off nearby walls like schooling fish in the ocean. Unfortunately, after a few hours of metal fabrication, my throat is dry, as if sandpaper has been rubbed across my larynx. The choking smoke rising from the welding torch is nauseating at best, but propping the door open in the summer months helps. Any amount of construction in the garage will take its toll on me; cuts, scrapes, or burns are inevitable, and yet, I hardly notice them while I work. As I move back and forth between work areas, I fall into a trance. I can fondly remember one of my first experiences in the garage. My father, being the father he is, decided to show me how to weld. I was four years old. I slid the thick leather gloves on which extended up to my shoulders, and my father placed the loose fitting welding helmet on my head. The next thing I knew, I was poking the rod into a chunk of iron under his guidance. Despite all precautions, a large spark managed to travel down one of the gloves and burned my fingertip. It didn’t hurt. I was fairly impressed with myself, but my mother didn’t share the same feelings.
My thoughts are usually quite clear while I am in the garage. For the most part I am not thinking about the actual project at hand, rather the reaction I will get when it is done. That is what keeps me going, and pushes me to make it just right. Sometimes the project is difficult to make, and if I struggle to figure out a way to do it, my thoughts about anything else collapse. Once I begin to think about the project and nothing else, I get tired and frustrated. It’s time to take a break. Sometimes a few weeks go by before I even want to look at what I was working on, but I eventually do. It needs to be finished. Eventually I figure out what to do. The finishing touches are what takes the longest. I circle the shop floor, staring from different angles, trying to catch a blunder someone else might see. Regularly, I claim the project to be finished, but then a few hours later my dad will walk in to find me re-sanding down a corner.
After countless hours, I am satisfied with what I have created. I stare upon it for some time. I made it, and the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming. At last, I flick the lights off and head back towards the house under the moonlight, creation at hand.