In 2010, Nashville got baptized. Socked with rain for two straight days, Nashville emerged as a floating city. Living two miles from the Cumberland River and set on a hill, my husband and I never expected our home to flood, yet I remember watching a trickle in our basement family room turn into a gush as we frantically pushed furniture to the far side of the room and rushed lamps, guitars and rugs to higher ground.
Compared to many other homes and businesses, the damage was minimal but enough to warrant tearing up our basement flooring.
What we discovered when we tore up the carpet was that there was a layer of tile below it. And another layer of tile below that. And another layer of tile below that. The lowest layer of tile, though ancient and not perfect, was a deep red and black checkerboard pattern that I thought was kind of kitchy and complimented the rest of the room (which we affectionately called The Lodge), so we kept it.
The Lodge began as a wood paneled 1960’s time capsule sporting a built-in wall-to-ceiling bookcase, a stone fireplace and a hand-hewn wood mantle and beams – oh, and a wagon wheel chandelier. When we moved in, there were popcorn ceilings, old carpet and a huge Velvet Elvis tapestry hung on the wall next to a makeshift minibar.
The Velvet Elvis, the minibar and popcorn ceilings had to go, but otherwise, the Lodge has stayed relatively in tact all these years. Wagon wheel and all.
But truth be told, we rarely spent time in The Lodge. For one thing, we had two cats that took it upon themselves to make the entire room their litter box and for another thing, I once spotted a spider in The Lodge so big I thought it was a mouse.
So the room became like the Velveteen Rabbit – neglected, diseased, discarded.
Until the flood.
The Great Nashville Flood was the best thing that ever happened to The Lodge because it forced us to once again address this poor neglected child. When we tore out the flooring, we realized that The Lodge did in fact leak nearly every time it rained and probably always had – we had just never realized it because because we were too busy ignoring its existence. So what started out as just removing the carpet became removing the carpet, two layers of tile, getting rid of our damp, ruined furniture, fixing drainage and gutter issues as well as leaking crawl space and foundation issues.
It was such a metaphor for our lives. At that time, I was pouring myself into my music but feeling lost and completely disillusioned. My husband was traveling and we were, frankly, drifting to a dangerous distance. Much like our beloved Lodge, our lives needed a good hard rain.
The Lodge was a catalyst for some real changes that needed to occur. After our basement flooded, the work began, both literally and proverbially. Change certainly didn’t come overnight, but the wheels began to turn and sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Ten years later our first child came into the world like yet another cleansing rain. Anyone who’s had kids knows that becoming a parent is like breaking a floodgate of change into your life. Some change came in the form of hard, difficult truths and some came in the form of beautiful joy. Nevertheless, here we are, seven years and another child later, still changing. I know that we’re still changing because we are again, revamping The Lodge – our great life metaphor.
It’s ironic because all I ever wanted in my life is arrive. Arrive at a place where I’m successful and happy. Arrive at a home that is beautifully functional. Arrive in a marriage that is perfectly harmonious. But I’m learning that arrival doesn’t exist. It may be cliche, but life isn’t about arriving, it’s about the journey of continual change. If you think you’ve arrived then you’re probably dead.
So, my advice? Don’t fear the hard work and don’t take change to mean that something’s broken or that you’ve messed up somehow. Change is a good thing. It means that your heart is seeking better things. It means you’re evolving and becoming more of the person you were meant to be. And most importantly, it means you’re not dead.