This bench has lived with my family since 2007 when my husband and I bought it to be part of the business we were creating. We wanted it to be cool, eye catching and funky, so I went to work with my tubes of paint. I have a strong sentimental attachment to it today as it turned out so well and became a town favorite. It sat outside of our family gift shop, Beyond, for several years – a much appreciated resting spot for tired tourists who liked to take photos on the rainbow bench.
It’s been touched up and repainted many times as the result of some interesting adventures. It was even stolen once, and when retrieved, we discovered it needed some definite welding repair. It has led different lives under different paint jobs at 5 different homes since it was retired from the store in 2011. It represents Nostalgia and repurposing at its finest.
This spring I decided the Beyond Bench would have a complete do-over as it was pretty sad with its peeling paint from several years ago. I knew this would probably be its final incarnation as it is starting to show its age. (Aren’t we all?) I’m in a new home and starting a new chapter, but I’m trying to incorporate many of the things I loved from the previous chapters of my life. (My kids will tell you that my sentimental streak runs strong!) I felt our old bench needed to live in my new yard to make it feel more like home.
It was stripped down to wood, the metal was repainted and I started over. (In more ways than one!)
I had no idea what to paint. I wanted it to be similar to the original “happy hippy tie dye” paint it wore back in the days of our shop, but I also wanted it to have a slightly different feel to reflect this place, and this time in my life. I knew it needed to be bright and cheerful and beckon you to come, rest, and stay for awhile. There is a slightly overgrown and wild, cottage garden gypsy vibe going on in this big yard, and, me being me, well – we knew it was going to be colorful! I grabbed an assortment of paints and went out to spend a Sunday afternoon with the bench.
Funny how things can turn out when you just get out of the way and let them happen – the bench turned out perfectly. The new coat of paint suits the surroundings and it even has a new name and a new function in life.
The last several years – actually getting to this point of having a new home and yard – have not been easy ones for me or my family. A lot of big life changes and loss led us to this point, and we are not alone. All of us across the globe have been left reeling during the covid outbreak with the myriad of worries, fears and frustrations that have become our daily rations. I feel I have been at my wit’s end more than once as I try to navigate through all the stuff life has been throwing out. Most of my friends and family are experiencing the same pin ball effect in their own lives. Nothing is normal. Life has been difficult.
My tendency, when frustrated, is to go outside and just chill out on this bench under the tree. The tree is a gigantic ornamental pear that snows white blossoms in the spring, and offers delicious shade the rest of the summer. It overlooks a small memorial garden with painted rocks, beautiful blooms, chimes and a gorgeous mermaid statue. This little corner of our big yard is my happy place, an oasis of mellow.
When we moved into this new (for us) home and ran into those unforeseen things that can happen (especially when you move into a new home that is also an older home), it was frustrating, but not unexpected. In light of what was happening in the world around us with a newly declared pandemic, our water issues were not something to be really complained about. It was just the timing of everything. Trying to unpack and get our lives sorted out had to wait while plumbing and drywall and new flooring took center stage. It seemed the more we looked, the more little things we found that needed to be addressed. (You expect minor fixes in an older home, just not all at once!!)
Recently our new home was jokingly referred to as “Wit’s End” after some kitchen sink issues and it stuck. We’ve joked about it several times as the name of our “Estate”. It is cute, clever, teasingly affectionate, and it is true! We’ve all been living at our Wit’s End. Unsure, confused, frustrated, tired, frazzled and even frightened. It seems to be a global theme for the last few years.
But then one day it occurred to me, what do you do when you are just over it all? What do we as humans do when we reach our wit’s end? If you are anything like me, you remove yourself from any innocent family members who may be in the line of fire if you truly lose it, then stomp off to find a refuge. A quiet place to fume and swear, to have an internal bitch session or a rant to the birds, to bemoan, wail or cry, to eventually calm yourself and try to make decisions, to relax and regroup, to gather up the shreds of your patience so that you can go back and somehow finish whatever it is you have going on. Wit’s End is the place between “OMG” and “I got this”. It’s the place where you figure out how to make it all work.