I almost wrote a post last Tuesday night about The Ledge.
The Ledge isn't a physical place. But I go there from time to time, just the same. It's the brink I reach in my mind sometimes, when life circumstances or chemical inbalance or the sad slant of the winter sun colors everything in my world in blue.
After the coldest day in 20 years here in Kentucky, and after a delayed start back to school and to a normal routine following our holiday break, and after a Christmas that for some reason I just couldn't get behind and enjoy, I found myself once again on The Ledge. I stood there, looking down into the chasm, knowing that I was only one step away from the darkness, but also knowing that stepping into it was a choice I was not making. I would pull myself out. Winter would become spring, routine would save me, and I would soon be able to step far, far away.
But then on Wednesday a frozen pipe burst in my home while I was at work, and my finished basement flooded, and mother nature and bad insulation came up behind me and gave me a forceful push. And suddenly The Ledge didn't seem like such a light-hearted little view on depression.
Sh*t got real.
If you're keeping score at home, this was the second basement flood in six months. But the first one, in the bright glow of hindsight, was not bad. We called an emergency restoration crew, they worked to dry us out, and 72 hours later we were able to move furniture back into place.
72 hours from this flood, and we are nowhere close to moving furniture back into place. I don't know how many more hours we're looking at, but my guess is...many. A lot.
I'm forcing myself to look away from the darkness and into the bright side, which contains these things:
--We didn't lose anything that can't be replaced, like pictures or family heirlooms or my lightsaber.
--The damage is covered by our homeowner's policy.
--We got further proof that our neighbors are good people who come through in times of crisis and offer tequila afterward.
--I learned that my kid is rather unflappable, like her father, and therefore a calming presence in the face of her mother's general tendency to flip the freak out.
I'm able to look at the bright side for about five minutes at a time, or until I have to enter my basement laundry room to start or finish a load of laundry, and then the hyperventilation at the mess left behind and the noise of industrial fans and dehumidifiers becomes cloying again and I have to breathe into a paper bag that once held a bottle of (you guessed it) tequila. What I think I'm saying here is that it all comes back to Patron in the end.
The damage has felt like a loss. Like one more thing in the past couple of years I've been forced to grieve. I've been through all those stages before and recognized the white-hot anger I felt when I learned that the previous owners finished the basement so beautifully but didn't insulate one outside corner. I recognized the denial I felt when my eyes told me there was water pouring into the basement but my hands wouldn't believe it until I forced their contact with the water-logged carpet. I recognized the bargaining, the sadness.
And when I finally got to acceptance, roughly 48 hours after the initial incident, I recognized that, too, the way one recognizes an old friend.
Things will eventually be fine, as things so often are. For that's all the basement is: a thing. It could have been so much worse.
As for The Ledge...well, I'm still standing there. I started to fall in, but there were many hands offered, and strong people to lift me out.
It's up to me now to will my feet in place and begin to back away. The first step is always the hardest.