Sealing the Roof

Some time back, I wrote about the importance of clearing the roof of debris. Like many things I write, it was intended as a metaphor, illustrated by happenstance with imagery of me clearing actual debris off my actual roof.  Because sometimes, in spite of life’s special curve balls, we have to muster the energy and resolve to do stuff that simply needs to be done. And in so doing, perhaps we can find joy or a sense of gratification, and maybe even extend that process to a more metaphysical level, using it as a tool for release or letting go, or at the very least, we can check one more thing off the ever-growing list and move along to the next item.

Which, in this case, is a roof sealant.

There are cracks in the surface, though it looks smooth and sound to the naked eye.

Last winter, we enjoyed the heaviest amount of rainfall that Los Angeles has seen in years. Although not enough to entirely counter the trend of drought that has plagued the region, it did refill reservoirs and contribute to record snowpack in the mountains, dramatically relieving the strain on water reserves. However, this exceptional amount of rain also managed to seep through the apparent (but not obvious) cracks in our roof, puckering the paint in our kitchen ceiling. While the roof remains structurally sound, the asphalt sheeting is showing its age and beginning to crack under the incessant heat of the sun.

When a minor leak from our water heater led to a small amount of construction in our kitchen, we ended up repainting the entire room and fixing the ceiling in the process. Of course, that will look fabulous up until the time when we have another multi-day deluge.

The whole process of kitchen reconstruction happened during my final months of chemotherapy. In fact, the painting happened just after I completed my 40th round of pemetrexed. It was a transitional phase, my body working to clear out traces of the old drugs and adapting to being, for want of a better word, clean. I was still heavily fatigued, but I was beginning to get my brain back to where it had been before my cancer treatment began.

Summer was officially over. The kitchen painting happened in the final week of August and we were thrust back into the school routine. We had work schedules that kept us on track, at least insofar as daily rituals are concerned. One day, Indian Summer was in full effect, the next it was cool and threatening rain. Autumn weather was definitely moving in, and with it would come the possibilities of showers.

I had also been given the directive to stay out of the sun. Fortunately for me, I suppose, there was an overcast day last week after I had completed my research on the best solutions for the roof. The dark clouds in the sky made me just nervous enough about an early rain that I sped off to get my supplies.

Then I hauled the five-gallon bucket of silicone sealant up to the roof.

The first step was to clean what was already on the surface. Some of that debris was simple to sweep away, some of it required a bit of a pressure wash with the garden hose, then maybe a little extra scrubbing with my push broom. But I put my back into it and focused on those little cracks. Here and there the dirt puddled, but I was able to lift most of it up and rinse it away.

Then I began filling those nearly indiscernible cracks.

It was a remarkably easy job. Using a big paintbrush and a roller that I happened to have left from a when I painted some rooms a decade or so ago, I slapped on a thick layer of this white goo.

In about an hour, the sun still hiding conveniently behind heavy clouds, I was finished with the area of concern. A quarter of my roof was now a beautiful, clean white. The cracks were sufficiently washed, filled, and prepped for another decade of neglect.

A perfect metaphor for therapy? Not really. But for me, up there in my work gear, getting the job done was quite cathartic. I don’t often have the energy to do this kind of work, or at least I had not had that kind of energy often over the past few years. And this represented the culmination of a months-long project cum debacle that needed to be relegated to the past.

Working things out, clearing the debris, shaking off the dust, and getting your head in the right space are all important. Maybe even essential.

But putting the finishing touches on, polishing that surface, sealing those cracks; that stuff, my friend, is priceless.

[Those cracks, for purposes of my personal analogy, were the physical and psychological remnants of over 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy. Moving on to a new treatment plan with a clean slate, primed and ready, is a lot less daunting than it would have been otherwise. But that is just my take — or one of them, since I look at this a bit differently each time. You should read into it what you will, and maybe let me know what you think in the comments below.]


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