I am about to get sentimental about a poorly made wooden gate
The picture attached to this post is of a wooden gate that I made nearly seven years ago. I am good at a few things and average at many others, and one of the things at which I am average is woodworking.
But when my first child got old enough that the stairs in our house were suddenly dangerous, I called upon those average woodworking skills to fashion a gate that could seal them off. It was a project that I loved – nothing makes you feel more like a MAN! than wielding a saw to protect your child – and after one afternoon spent at Home Depot and in the shed, I had a very nice (if I do say so myself) gate, white spray-painted dowels ensconced in a sanded square frame.
And then I brought it into the house and tried to mount it to the wall with the metal hinges I had lovingly selected, only to find that the house was uneven enough for the square frame to not swing properly.
At this point, you do what any man does: You IMPROVISE. With this particular gate (and I was using this gate, because there was no way I was going to forfeit the afternoon and the $50 spent only to buy a pre-fab model) and this particular set of stairs, there was only one way to get it all to work, and that involved getting the saw out again. So I took off one side of the thing, evened it out as best I could, and made it work.
A few hours later, it was mounted on the wall, and the metal latch worked just fine against the banister (thanks to a ham-fisted retrofit job involving pliers and a piece of metal that didn’t want to be bent but ended up being bent, dammit).
And you know what? It was a perfectly fine gate, and it did the job, and over the days and weeks and years, it became a part of our home. When the rapidly growing kids would run downstairs, we would holler at them to “close the gate behind you!” We took the gate into account when getting ready to take out the garbage. We fussed at neighbor kids who tried to push the gate the wrong way (it only swings THAT WAY, don’t you know, and if you try to swing it THE OTHER WAY you might break it, so don’t do that!).
At any rate, this winter we had to have the entire banister replaced, and when the old one went away, so too did the gate. We thought about finding a way to replace it, but realized that for the most part, we don’t need it – our youngest is now able to go up and down the stairs with relative ease, and the odds are pretty good that we’re not going to have any more children.
So the gate sits outside, waiting for the garbage man to pick it up and crush it into splinters and shards of paint and pieces of jagged metal at the bottom of an infinitely large pile. I am the kind of man who takes a picture of this gate before it goes away. I am the kind of man who cries over “little” things like this.