This morning I woke gently, slightly before the alarm clock. I got up feeling nauseous, which is odd; I often feel ill after my morning medication, but I hadn’t had it yet. For the first time in decades unexpected nausea in the morning doesn’t cause me to wonder if I am pregnant. (Yay, menopause!) I lay down for another minute or two to let the nausea pass, if it might be due to getting up too quickly and making myself dizzy. It does pass; I exchange it for hiccups.
It will be a hot day according to the forecast, so I wear cool summer clothes; in the chill of morning I am chilly and feeling a bit underdressed. I know the feeling will pass when I begin the walk to work, and it has me thinking about the a/c in the office – perhaps I should take a light sweater to leave at work for these hotter summer months?
I have worked out the theme and selected the canvases for the long wall along my living room. Many of them have never previously been hung, they do not yet have hanging hardware on them, and some of them are unframed (and clearly meant to be framed). I have a vision, and I am not yet ready to proceed. The lovely sheers for the patio window, too, are ready to hang…only the bracket to support the curtain rod is not quite long enough to reach past the vertical blinds in the intended way.
In other times in my life any one of these somewhat frustrating circumstances could have blown my day, my experience, or at a minimum my mood. Instead, and seemingly without effort, I feel more or less prepared for each circumstance facing me, and that’s enough. I have forward momentum. I am not stalled in my tracks by other steps, small delays, or minor detours; these experiences are also part of the journey. I didn’t do significant work on this directly – although managing my frustration (rather, my lack of skill at dealing with it) has been on my ‘to do list’ for a very long time. It’s another bit of internal change that is going on as result of other practices, and day-to-day reductions in stress. I didn’t understand the degree to which managing day-to-day stress would improve things that didn’t seem directly stress related in my understanding of things. It’s very efficient, and I smile at the recognition that I am getting a lot of good results from a few simple changes, a handful of good practices, and a commitment to some verbs.
There is more to do. It feels a little awkward lately how often I sit down to write and find that few challenges speak up to be spoken about within the quiet of my thoughts. That’s no great tragedy, obviously, it just seems a bit unsettling to be so content – happy? – for so long. More than a month with so little drama that drama seems not to exist, and so little stress that I can count on one hand the number of times I have wept helplessly since I moved into my own place – and it doesn’t require all my fingers. I get more moved in every week, and the small details matter. Once I evicted my arachnid roommates (they were not paying rent, and biting me all the damned time), I settled into contentment, and life, on a new level. I don’t know that I have words for it – or that there is any way to share the experience in a comfortable rational way without sounding like I am bragging, or being smug. It is a humbling experience because I am both challenged to express it, and a little frightened by it – if I stare into the face of contentment, will it take its leave of my experience? It’s silly, but I have never been here before and I just don’t really know.
I have lived alone a couple of times previously (it never lasted long), and never found this level of contentment for more than hours or days. My first exploration of living alone was when I left my violent first husband. I moved into a tiny partially furnished apartment in low-income housing. I spent most of my time anxiously peering through the curtains to check if he was still parked outside, sleeping in his car, or looking over my shoulder to determine where he was, somewhere behind me (he often was). It was not ever an experience characterized by contentment. I was trying to survive. The next time I made an attempt to live alone I had left my first husband permanently, and although I loved my quiet beige and white apartment, I spent most of my time anxious that my ex was still stalking me, worried about money, and struggling with my libido. Living alone didn’t last long, and it was not an experience characterized by contentment; I was still looking for ‘happily ever after’, contentment was not an idea whose time had come for me. I don’t consider experiences with barracks life, or shared living, any sort of ‘living alone’ – there are just too many people outside those doors to qualify in any way as ‘solo living’ in the same sense. I also can’t realistically count circumstances where I was alone for a time when housemates, family, or partners were away for however long; not my house, not my rules, not my way.
I didn’t know what to expect when I moved into Number 27. I love this place. Oh, sure, it’s a rental and it’s an older one. The carpet is worn. The appliances (whether new or not) are modest, fairly sturdy and commonplace sorts. The kitchen and bathroom are small, on the edge of ‘cramped’. It is in a largish community, and my windows look out onto the lives of others. Generally speaking, it’s an ordinary enough sort of rental of (as it turns out) minimal square footage to be comfortable for me. I moved in prepared to struggle with sorrow, loneliness, frustration, privation, isolation… and I’ve had brief moments of sorrow, usually hormones or fatigue are involved, the loneliness turns out to be less about whether I am alone and much more about the quality and nature of interactions I have with lovers, however remote. Frustration? I don’t know, now and then I guess, in a very ordinary way, hardly attention-getting. Privation? Not a thing here. Isolation? Also not a thing here. This is my home. I love it here. I don’t mind that it is an older rental and a bit run down; I keep a tidy well-cared for home, and it is mine, and it is lovely and welcoming. The small ordinary details that fall short of ideal teach me what I am looking for in a ‘forever home’… which may turn out to be very like this wee place that is so very much home to me now (perhaps a bit larger in the kitchen, bath, and living room…) only situated somewhere a bit more private.
I once spent a lot of time daydreaming about ‘the perfect home’, and in my daydreams it kept getting grander, larger, fancier, more remote, more secure, with more interesting luxuries, more features, more gadgets…turns out, in real life, all I really want and need is… enough.
Today is a good day to let events unfold with an open mind. Today is a good day to coast through the small challenges on a smile. Today is good day for ‘enough’.