This morning I am sitting in a coffee shop a few minutes from my house, sipping slightly burnt coffee and craning my neck every few minutes to catch a glimpse of Pike’s Peak, cold and white against the blue sky. Just down the street, a contractor is trying to put my house back together. Today, he is (hopefully) putting new flooring in my bathroom. And tomorrow he will (fingers crossed) paint my ceiling.
This season of my life is filled with lots of hoping and crossing fingers. It is a season of lost control and frustrations. It was almost a month ago that I came home from a trip to the east coast to find that my home had betrayed me while I was out of town. My kitchen ceiling sagged under the weight of water. A sheet rock stalactite dripped water on my wood floor, rippling the oak. A half moon water stain formed over my cabinet, the water dripping down the old mason jars and rusting the spice tins that I had bought at the antique market. Upstairs, the linoleum was deceptively dry in my bathroom. But a bubble bulged next to my toilet, and when I stepped on it I could hear a squish that made my stomach ache.
The next day I stood in the kitchen, plastic spread over the floor and cabinets, and watched as a guy named Tommy with limp hair and acne, cut chunks of my ceiling out with a box cutter. They splattered to the floor, and I picked up a piece, gray and slimy in my palm.
“That drywall is like liquid!” Tommy said with a laugh from his ladder where he continued to stab my ceiling. I dropped the drywall back on the floor, walked upstairs, and locked myself in my bedroom.
From the moment Tommy began assaulting my ceiling, I have had to resort to hoping and finger crossing. It’s not a tactic I’m comfortable with. I even moved into a hotel for a few days while my home was “uninhabitable.” I’ve since moved back in, passing control over my home’s fate to a kindly contractor named Raleigh. Every day when I pull into my garage, I do so with the knowledge that I have no idea what surprise my home will hold for me. Will there be scaffolding in my hall? Will the kitchen be covered in a fine drywall dust? Will long planks of vinyl be propped in the hallway upstairs? Will progress have stopped, or plowed ahead?
I have no idea. And not a bit of control beyond the checks I write and the occasional phone calls about the color of the trim and what direction I want the vinyl planks to run.
This lack of control is not new to me. But I hate it every time. I am not a controlling person–except when I am. I like to get things done. And when your home rebels, you kind of stop getting things done. And then you remember that you were never really in control anyway. And it’s not just about your house.
I’m looking for a literary agent to be in control of my manuscript’s fate.
I have a career where my future sometimes rests in the hands of people who wouldn’t be able to pick me out in a line-up.
Every month I send my writing to a mentor who I trust and respect, but I am fearful when I relinquish control to her and her red pen.
So I will sit here this morning, and finish my lukewarm, burnt coffee while my contractor hammers and nails and paints (fingers crossed). And I will let my fleeting illusions of control slip from my fingers like wet drywall, splattering on the floor.