Find a hobby, they said.
Explore your interests. Expand your horizons. Enrich your life.
With gritted teeth, Karen heaved.
White knuckled grip.
An axe blade whistled through the air.
The axe lodged deep into the purely decorative wall dividing Karen’s kitchen from her dining room. Karen swiped a rogue strand of straight blonde hair off her face and looked at the half-buried blade. She gave the handle a tug but the axe didn’t budge.
At first she wasn’t sure the axe would even work on the wall. Now she wasn’t sure she’d be able to get the axe out of the wall.
Karen felt like screaming.
So she did.
As she screamed, she grabbed the rubber grip of the axe with both hands and yanked furiously. The axe shifted, wiggled, and finally pulled free. The force of Karen’s pull sent her tumbling backwards, tripping over a rug, and falling to the ground.
The axe spun weightless for what looked like minutes before crashing down, blade-first, right towards the delicate features of Karen’s 32-year-old face.
The blade THUNKED into the wood floor, a centimeter from where Karen’s head had been. She blinked as a blind rage boiled in her belly. She grabbed the axe handle and rolled to her feet.
Another furious yank and the axe came up out of the floor. Karen squatted down and inspected the splintered gash in the wood. She ran her fingers across the cut. The wood floors had been less than two years old—a massive upgrade from the cheap beige tile her house had come with.
She and Conrad had endless arguments about the wood floors. They bought the house with the intent of piecemeal renovations. Conrad had been agreeable at first, but each time they talked about price, he pushed her to consider a cheaper option.
Wood floors weren’t cheap.
Karen insisted that if the whole plan was to upgrade, then what the fuck was the point of upgrading to cheaper aesthetics?
“My house is my hobby.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, you haven’t seen it, but it’s definitely a fixer-upper. The only things worth saving are the walls, and--actually, nevermind--“
“There’s this one wall--it’s not structural or anything--it divides the dining room and kitchen. I can’t fucking stand it. I said when we bought the house, this wall comes down. I always wanted the open floor plan but Conrad wanted a cheap house. Okay, fine–we buy the house but the wall comes down.”
“The wall never came down?”
“The wall never came down. Like a goddamn analogy for my life.”
“The wall--it’s a metaphor. An analogy is more of a literal comparison--you know, nevermind. How do you feel the wall represents your life?”
“How does it--it’s a wall. It keeps blocking me from the things that I want. Just like Conrad.”
“And his goddamn puzzles.”
“His puzzles blocked you from what you wanted?”
“That’s not what I mean--you’re just--he needed an entire room dedicated to them. Storage, multiple tables, and don’t get me started on the framed puzzles he hung on the walls. I said to him--go ahead, do whatever the fuck you want, just keep it in the puzzle room.”
“Most people have rooms dedicated to their hobbies.”
“Sure. But then it started spilling out. On the kitchen table. In the living room in front of the TV. He set a card table up in the bedroom!”
“Do you resent Conrad for his hobby? Do you feel like he’s shoving his hobby in your face?”
“I have a hobby. My house.”
“Karen, the problem with treating your house as a hobby is that eventually the floors are done. The cabinets are refinished. The bathroom counters replaced. And then what are you left with? Tearing it all apart and doing it over again? A hobby should take you out of yourself. Enrich your life. Distract you from reality.”
“That’s what I get from my house.”
“What was the last book you read?”
“Who has time to read anymore?”
“Did you ever puzzle with Conrad?”
“I have my own hobbies.”
“You have your house.”
“It’s my hobby!”
Karen took a long sip of a red wine as she leaned against the kitchen counter, staring at the only thing between her and her open floor plan.
The gash in the wall seemed unfairly insignificant.
The axe was clearly not the right tool for the job, but it was what she had. She had found it in a corner of the garage, no idea why Conrad had it in the first place.
More importantly, it had felt good to swing the axe.
Enrich your life. Distract yourself from reality.
When that blade sliced through the air, a second stretched into minutes. Dopamine flooded Karen’s skull. Electricity shot through her extremities.
The ultimate distraction.
It might not have been the right tool to demolish a wall, but it had proven to be a hell of a lot of fun.
An hour later, a good chunk of the damned wall had been hacked away and Karen sat on an overturned bucket, axe handle against her thigh.
She switched from wine to water as she worked to catch her breath.
“I think the problem is that you’re letting all of these anxieties overwhelm you--“
“Last I checked, that’s what anxieties do--“
“And if the house is a source of anxiety, it can’t be a very good hobby.”
“The house isn’t the source of anxiety. It was Conrad.”
“Be that as it may, you need a distraction. A happy little distraction. You need to balance your life so the anxieties don’t overwhelm.”
“I thought that was why I was talking to you.”
“What other things interest you?”
“Why do you always go back to that?”
“You’ve never given me a thoughtful answer.”
“Wedding. Husband. House.”
“Surely there’s more. Talk to me about your job.”
“Fuck me. Aren’t we at an hour yet?”
“Let me ask one more question?”
“Why do you keep referring to Conrad in the past tense?”
The axe had absolutely been the wrong tool for the job. But it was a hell of a lot of fun to swing.
Karen was convinced her therapist had been wrong. She had felt zero anxiety as she hacked away at the wall and she had felt so distracted that the hour had passed in a blink of an eye.
She looked past the remains of the wall and into the dining room where a large, red cooler sat in the corner.
A spark of enlightenment tickled Karen’s brain.
Shit, maybe the therapist had been right.
The wall wasn’t the key. It wasn’t even the house. Everything had been an anxious mess until …
… until Karen had swung the axe.
Demolishing the wall wasn’t the hobby. Swinging the axe was.
The axe had always been the common denominator in the “happy distraction” formula.
The wall. Conrad. Her therapist.
Swing the axe.
Expand your horizons.
Enrich your life.
Embrace a new hobby
What a happy little distraction.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jordan Krumbine is a professional video editor, digital artist, and creative wizard currently quarantined in Kissimmee, Florida. When not producing content for the likes of Visit Orlando, Orlando Sentinel, or AAA National, Jordan is probably yelling at a stubbornly defective Macbook keyboard, tracking creative projects in Trello, and animating quirky videos with LEGO and other various toys.