One of the most surreal days of my life was the day I spent packing up all of my then-husband’s belongings and divvying up our kitchen and bathroom stuff. He had just moved out and we knew he wouldn’t be coming back and it felt good to do something, to grab onto that small bit of control I still had. I worked in silence, filling giant storage bins and packing suitcases and making neat piles of clothes. It sucked.
But it also made all this room in my house. And once I was cleaning and organizing for myself, and no longer feeling like someone’s maid, it started to feel a lot nicer to keep my house tidy. I started liking it. (Not dishes or folding or floors though — I still solidly hate those chores.) The de-cluttering and organizing and redecorating, though. That felt so good. Like massaging my own brain. When my anxiety was reaching near-crippling levels during the early divorce stages, cleaning was one of the only activities I found calming.
Then something happened. Actually, nothing happened. I don’t know what tipped the scales or inspired me but I started feeling compelled to make things. And not just stress-hats knit in a frenzy while watching MTV.
I started baking again. I cleaned my garage. I bought new cans of spray paint. I decorated some shitty furniture on the dog-porch so it didn’t look so much like a dog-porch. This escalated little by little, until a friend said to me in a text that I should probably stop saying I’m not crafty. She was right! I’ve become… crafty. I might not spend a lot of time embellishing things with glitter or scrapbooking, but I’ve begun to love using my hands to make things. I made tons of Christmas ornaments. I made an awesome display for photos. I built a planter out of a pallet. I stained a pallet for wall art (but haven’t decided on the art yet.) I hung a light fixture. I painted picture frames. I installed step stones in my side yard and helped my best friend lay a flower bed between our houses. I installed a curtain wire for photos. I rehabbed an old curio cabinet. I rehabbed a 1970′s desk.
I made things.
My garage is my happy place. My brother and dad have helped me get shelves installed. I have a shop light. I bought an old workbench on Craigslist. My tools are on pegboard. It’s pretty neat.
The other day a friend of a friend asked me why I had a workbench in my garage. I kind of sputtered because I wasn’t sure why he was asking. Was it surprising that a woman would have a workbench? Do I not look handy? I said something awkward about “furniture is fun” but what I meant is that I like making shit, man. It feels good. And not just because of the paint fumes.