I had worked hard to make the house desirable to buyers, believing rituals like turning all the mug handles due-north would bring an offer. I polished every surface. I fluffed the toss pillows into an inviting cascade. Fresh baked cookies and perfectly rolled towels disguised my sagging hopes from house hunters. But as summer dragged into winter, and dozens of couples tracked through the foyer, there were no bids.
My husband had left with my stepchildren, and the house our family had shared was now a hall of refracting silence. I was barely afloat under the emotional weight of the divorce, and as long as I had to live in that house, I could never move on. It pulled me down like the world's saddest, biggest boat anchor. For months I struggled to sell it, but at the crest of the real estate crash, no one was buying.
But in the middle of that long winter, I completed my first metals class. For weeks I had been surrounded by strong, independent women, and I learned to handle an acetylene torch, power tools, and volatile chemicals. I drove home from that class in a black ice storm – Car accidents littered the highway, trucks were jackknifed across lanes, but I remained calm as I considered a new life as a metalsmith.
When I arrived safely at the house, it crackled as ice pelted the windows. I stood in the empty living room and examined the ring I had made. It was a simple silver band stamped with the word, "gray" – a reminder to seek balance while my life felt like it was spinning out of control. I slipped the ring onto my finger. For the first time in months, I allowed a smile. I told myself, "You've got this" –
And that's when I noticed it.
A trickling sound coming from everywhere. I wandered through each room, inspecting every sink. No broken pipes, running faucets, overflowing tubs. Finally, I saw that walls were – weeping. Glittering streams rolled in lazy threads from the second floor to the basement. Blisters had emerged in the drywall like barnacles. Sodden circles had pooled at the foot of every corner. The house too, it seemed, had given up and settled in for a good, long cry.
The ice storm had caused the roof to begin leaking. I climbed around the balcony in the freezing rain, searching with a flashlight and not the faintest idea what I was looking for. I panicked. The water was going to ruin the interior of the house. I would have to remove it from the market, mired for months in insurance paperwork and prolonged, costly repairs. Worse, I would be indefinitely moored to this moldering albatross. For all my furious plotting, polishing, and pointing of mug handles, there was nothing I could do now. I was going down with this ship.
Soaked and cold, I sat on the wet carpet like a frustrated toddler. I wept along with the walls. "You win! I get it! I am not in control" I sobbed to noone. These terrifying words now said, I held my breath and waited for a wave of hopelessness to overwhelm me. But, to my surprise, my tears stopped. I could almost hear the thump-thump-thumping of an anchor chain as it slipped loose – I had "let go, and let God" as the saying goes. When I no longer had to navigate this roiling sea but could just ride the waves, peace came flooding in. I was free.
Having had my moment of clarity, I was able to bend with the torrent of construction and delays, and in a few months, the house was back on the market. With brand new carpet and fresh paint, it looked better than ever, and it sold in just weeks. Soon, I moved into an airy new house and set about building my first metals studio, and rebuilding my life.