Which of these two windows do you think is the “too-small” window?
If you said the one on the right, you would not be right, you would be wrong. Wrong, WRONG, WRONG!
Sorry about the shouting. Let me explain.
If you have lived on this planet for more than a couple of decades, I’m willing to bet you have made some colossal mistakes. Something that you regretted perhaps for many years. Something rather more serious than a bad haircut, but not as life-altering as a bad marriage. So it is with this window.
I’ve lived in this house for over 30 years and one day I said to myself, “Self, why am I sitting here eating breakfast looking at a blank wall?” My self did not have an answer to that. “What about a nice big picture window?” I continued as I chomped on the Cheerios. Yes! A big window that looks out on my backyard which –although it’s far from perfect, it is sweet with hollyhocks and snapdragons in the spring, honeysuckle and beautiful orange apricots in the summer sun. In the autumn, there are chrysanthemums. I love my little yard.
“Why am I not enjoying my garden?” I persist as I reach for my coffee, nearly knocking it over — something I manage to do from time-to-time. Sippy cups — maybe that’s the answer.
Sorry, back to the window.
A few days later I’m driving up Charleston Blvd. and pass a business that’s been there forever and for the first time I notice the sign: Milgard Windows. Hey I’ve heard of them! On the spur of the moment I stop and go in.
“Absolutely, no problem,” they assure me. “We’ll come out Monday and have a look,” and they do.
“I’m thinking of a big window — like 4 x 5” I tell Ed (or was it George?).
He looks at the wall inside and out. “Why not go over another foot, almost to the sliding door? Make it 4 x 6? It wouldn’t be that much more.” He throws out a figure which sounds reasonable, I guess, since I had no idea of what it would cost.
“You’re the first person I’ve talked to,” I tell him. “Let me get a couple more estimates and get back to you.”
I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that putting in a new window is way different than replacing a window that’s already there. The second company, Universal, was a total loss. The young lad quoted me a price that was nearly triple the price from George (or was it Ed?) and pretty much implied my house wasn’t worth such an investment. Thanks a whole awful lot, kiddo. I finally found a third company — also Milgard. Their estimate was more in line with the first one and I decided to use them. So far, so good.
The actual problem (my problem) became apparent the day the men came to install the window. Never mind that it was the hottest day of the year — 113 degrees. No one could have predicted that. No, the actual problem came when they were cutting the wall and I went outside to peek in the truck at my new window. I had been so excited that I had barely slept the night before. I’d been up since 5:30, watching for them even though I knew the earliest they could possibly get here was 7:00, and here it was — just hours from being in my house. My new window! I looked in the back of the truck and there was a picture window. Surely not MY picture window — it didn’t look all that big.
I went around to the back of the house where Eduardo and Jose were working.
“Is that my window in the truck?” I asked.
“Yep. You like it?”
“It doesn’t look as big as I expected.”
Eduardo — or was it Jose? — went right on working and said, “That’s it. A four by five picture window.”
My throat suddenly got very dry. “It was supposed to be four by SIX,” I croaked.
“Nope, four by five.”
You know that “horrible sinking feeling” people talk about? Well, I got it. “Something’s wrong,” I told myself. I went back into the house and dug out the paperwork I’d signed when I handed over the deposit check. When I had signed the contract, I had gone over every little detail, asking what each clause meant, clarifying everything. And there it was in black and white — well, actually black on yellow — but there it was: “48” x 60″ window with white frame.”
HOW could I have made such a huge mistake? The whole point of getting the picture window was so that it would cover pretty much the entire wall. I had even drawn lines on the wall where the window would be and every morning would gaze at it, hugging myself knowing that soon I would be eating breakfast looking at my garden. The only explanation I could come up with was when I saw the 4 and the 6, my mind translated that to 4 feet by 6 feet rather than 48 by 60 inches.
That night I tossed and turned in bed, trying to figure out what I should do. Was it too late? The next day it would be too late for sure, but the window wasn’t completely installed yet and maybe …
That was five weeks ago and I’m reconciled, pretty much. It’s not exactly what I wanted but it sure is a big improvement over the wall.
Is there a lesson to be learned? I’m sure there is. It’s not one that I want to consider, though. There is no doubt that I was sloppy and inattentive and I’ll be paying the price for many years. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to walk into the dining room without a slight twinge of disappointment. I wonder how old you have to be before you learn all of life’s lessons.
However, I gotta say I love looking out it. Yes, it could’ve been bigger, but in the evening twilight when everything takes on that mysterious shade of blue, my backyard looks enchanted and I love it.
(Oh, and in case you have any elementary school kids around, here’s a riddle that’s sure to stump them: “Have you heard of that invention that allows you to see through walls?” when they reluctantly admit they have not, you can smugly tell them “It’s called a window.” Rim shot, please.)
I think it was Will Rogers who said, “Most people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” So am I happy with my beautiful new window? You bet! And I’ll bet Will Rogers would be, too.