I accomplished one thing this weekend. It took all weekend for me to fix three porch chairs. I attribute this to the phenomenon that all things require twelve steps.
Here are the twelve steps involved in the one thing I did this weekend:
- Admit the porch furniture is broken and in need. This was a challenging step because my porch is my favorite place in the whole world. Well, any porch really, is my favorite place in the whole world. So sitting on my own back porch hunched to the working side of the chair for a good two months was definitely denial. I didn’t want to know the truth. I’d already admitted I was helpless to put the furniture together a year ago. It’s the kind of furniture, as all furniture is now, that comes in a box. I tried to put it together. I invited friends over and they tried. My husband tried. My husband and I tried together. You already know that choice almost led to divorce so, we hired someone who put the furniture together. A year later I wanted them to still work!
- Take a deep breath. Turn the chairs over to discover that there are bolts missing from the sagging sides of the chairs.
- Remove a a good set of nuts and bolts from each chair.
- Dig around in the kitchen drawers for the last sandwich bag, put the nuts and bolts into the bag then put the bag into my purse.
- Drive to Lowe’s.
- Attempt to understand the nuts and bolts aisle and find the correct size of needed nuts and bolts.
- Abandon hope.
- Find an associate to help me. Wait while the associate finds an associate who understands the nuts and bolts aisle.
- Purchase the correct nuts and bolts then spend 15 minutes finding my car.
- Drive by Target and decide to go in for one little thing on a Sunday afternoon.
- Arrive home two hours later, sit on the footstool, lay out the nuts and bolts next to a screw driver and an Allen wrench while holding a just purchased from Target solo cup filled with Chardonnay (also just purchased at Target).
- Fix the god-forsaken porch furniture.
And then it was my choice. Looking at the myriads of things on my wish list — dust the cable box, pay the bills, write my next book — I could fall into total despair. I could see myself as a victim, someone who sadly engaged in an extended exercise to accomplish one thing and is left with only the futility of tiny things that will break again. Or I could see this as a total victory — I found what was missing, figured out how to replace it, and then did it.
I choose the latter.
Still, when my coworkers ask me what I did this weekend, I will lie and say I hung out. I will not allow the sweetness of this victory to be diminished by judgement, mine or theirs, that spending one half a day shoring up three pieces of porch furniture was not time well spent. It was. I am sitting in one of those chairs now, with a solo cup of Chardonnay, writing.