I used to have this picture in our house. The Pastor hated it. He hates most knick knack paddywacks and anything that involves people (me) spending money (his) to acquire things.
Its not like I thought it was some great picture or it went with our decor (believe me, there's no rhyme or reason there).
I just liked the quote.
I thought by owning the picture and seeing the words I would actually have hope.
We also used to have a fancy dining room set. It was the first furniture the Pastor and I shopped for together. It was purchased back in the days when I still had hope. Hope that we were going to have a certain kind of life. Hope that we were fancy people who had a fancy life and darling children. A life that involved sitting in pretty chairs around a pretty table, probably eating some kind of cake. I was in denial about what our life was really like.
But then something happened. There was a shift. I can't explain it. I don't know why or how or when. It just happened.
I gave the dining room set away. I didn't literally give it away, but someone got a heck of a deal on Craigslist. I had grown to detest the furniture I had wanted and loved so much. Love had turned into hate. I can't tell you how anxious that furniture had made me. Who was going to put a glass on it without a coaster? Who was going to do their homework on it, digging through the notebook paper with their pencil and making hieroglyphics in the table top? I was sick and tired of cleaning the cream colored microfiber seats. I was on the verge of pulling a Betty Draper.
I got rid of the china cabinet and the chairs and the table and the protective table pad I hated. I only had one brief moment afterwards, when I thought "what have I done?" But that moment was quickly alleviated when I witnessed the 16 year old child, trying to "eat" a frozen Capri-Sun straight from the freezer (no thaw time) with a fork and knife, on the table surface of the remaining small table in our home.
I knew I had made the right decision.
It was liberating.
In fact it felt so good to get rid of the dining room furniture, I started getting rid of all excess furniture. I defined excess as anything that didn't have an occupant in the chair as I walked past it. I got rid of a recliner. Then another one. Then a love seat.
I moved on to smaller items. In this house, I'd never hung up the hope picture. Sometime between our last move and now, 15 months, I had shoved hope in a closet. I no longer wanted to look at it or be reminded that I was supposed to have it, but I wasn't quite ready to get rid of it.
But then I was.
At first I thought I should still get something out of having hope. I thought I'd list it on Craigslist. But it didn't take me very long. Sometime between snapping a pic and writing the ad, I gave up. I was done with hope. I put it in my trunk and immediately took it to Goodwill. I figured if anyone could use hope, it was them.
When I have had my fill of watching the inhabitants of this house destroy things, I go to a small office space I have been renting where no one can touch my things. Two weeks ago, I went to go have a productive day. I walked in the door and there was a black snake in the middle of the floor.
What else could I expect in a place I had decorated with owls, the messengers of death in Native American tales?
The snake did it for me. Today I packed up everything that was at my office. I don't think I can work there anymore. I feel like I will always be on edge. That I won't be able to listen to music that would drown out snake sounds or walk around barefoot and certainly not take a nap on the floor.
My office space is gone and I'm working on my house becoming an empty shell where a whole lot of furniture used to be. I have a "new" table, free, salvaged from a college science building. It has a hole in the middle where you put your bunsen burner. We surrounded this table with folding chairs, which one of the teenagers couldn't stand, so he took it upon himself to find different chairs. Fine by me! Now we have our meals sitting on indestructible seafoam green chairs that came from an elementary school in Aline, Oklahoma. I couldn't be happier. I figure if thousands of schoolchildren couldn't destroy these chairs, they should be safe in our house for a day or two.
I don't have hope anymore. I have something else. I'm not sure what it is. That's probably why it took me months to write the words "giving up hope" on a piece of paper. Hope feels like anticipation, like being excited. I don't know what's going to happen. I'd sit around and think about it, but I got rid of the chairs. And really, I'm ok with whatever the future holds, as long as there aren't any snakes involved.