One year ago, my partner and I moved into an apartment in a new neighborhood. It was an incredible apartment in one of those too-hip neighborhoods, near a many of our close friends. It was a scenario that would have made anybody very happy. My partner was not happy. He said the new neighborhood stressed him out, he needed more trees, less pavement…the list went on. Nothing seemed to convince him we made the right decision.
On a sunny and slightly hungover Sunday morning, a light bulb went off: a project- that will help!
Before I knew it, I was buying a miter saw on my credit card from Lowe’s because, nothing would help an unhappy transition and a tense relationship quite like building some complicated hexagon shelves, the directions for which I found on a lifestyle blog (note: I wouldn’t recommend this endeavor) on a Sunday afternoon.
We finished the shelves three days later. They were slightly uneven but we were slightly better, things were looking up for my partner, and then we had a miter saw. I justified purchasing the miter saw by promising myself I would build all sorts of things after its purchase. Our next project? A bench.
Made of all 2x4s and finished in polyurethane, I was so proud of our bench. It was strong, it withstood winter weather and torrential downpours, and it fit at least three, maybe four people comfortably. It was the bench we built together and finished on a hot September night, toasting the finished product with cold Tecates.
Things started to feel comfortable and normal again. Throughout the year, we sat on it, our friends and family sat on it, all the while echoing “What a nice bench.”
And then the comfortable folds of our relationship started to unravel. We were engaged, and then we weren’t. We were in love, and then we weren’t. We made our apartment a home, and then it was a shell of a broken relationship.
I initially didn’t want to sell the bench, because it represented happier times: times when we loved each other, when we put our minds together, when we made each other laugh, when we respected each other.
I put it on Craigslist for $40, because I realized what that bench represented has long passed.
A girl in her early twenties responded to the ad, and showed up with her boyfriend on a Tuesday night to retrieve it. They both looked at the bench and their faces lit up: “It’s so nice! This could be a bed! It’s so sturdy!”
I looked at them both and felt my chest getting tight, sensing the promise and optimism that still existed in their relationship that I lost long ago in mine: “It’s free.”
They insisted on giving me at least $20, which, from anybody’s point of view, is a steal. But from where I sit, $20 is too much. They paid me $20 to remove the burden of reminiscing on a future that was never going to happen, a Pinterest wedding board that should’ve never existed, and a relationship that, as I was told by my ex a few weeks after it imploded, extended itself for far too long.
It was a good bench, and I hope it remains such a nice bench in its new owners’ eyes.