Archives for posts with tag: a home of my own

Well, today is properly “the day”. The computers will be shut off, packed in their boxes, and prepared for the move. The last of the significant packing and boxing will be done, in preparation for the moving truck (that’s tomorrow). We took a day to rest up and hang out, yesterday, and got to bed “at a decent hour” to ensure we have taken care of these fragile vessels to be at maximum readiness for a couple days of significant manual labor. I slept restlessly. I’m not surprised. I won’t be surprised if my Traveling Partner’s sleep was also restless; we’re both excited, and eager to get the move done and start this new chapter in our lives.

I woke early. It was an attack of vertigo that woke me, the room seeming to spin like madness, in spite of my closed eyes. I opened them and attempted to hold back my nausea by grabbing the edge of the sofa, where I was sleeping, when I woke. I straightened my body with great care, and stifled the panic that comes with the vertigo, reminding myself it is only a sensation, not representative of any sort of “reality” outside my own impaired sense of balance. I breathed through the panic. Exhaled, relaxed, double-checking with each breath that my spine was straight, and that my muscles were relaxed. I waited it out, reminding myself to make a note for my next doctor’s appointment. I already know better than to attempt to get up and walk when I have vertigo. lol

Once my vertigo passed, I got up and made coffee. I have an early morning errand, then back to the house to pack things into boxes, alongside my Traveling Partner. He may not even be up when I leave. I find myself hoping he rests deeply, and maybe even sleeps in. We can have coffee together when I get back. 🙂 Tomorrow feels peculiarly far away, and also almost upon us. Funny how my sense of time and timing works, and how subjective, and even abstract, it can be. Even the vertigo seems to simply add a surrealist twist to the already peculiar moment-between-moments. I sip my coffee contentedly, and with some caution; if the vertigo isn’t entirely and completely cleared up 100%, I can’t safely risk driving, at all. That would fuck up any number of details of our careful planning; my morning errand involves letting contractors into the house to do some “before we move in” things we’d like to have done. 🙂

Receiving the house keys was a pleasant moment… I somehow managed to return to the rental (definitely no longer feels like “home”) without taking even one “share-worthy” photo of our new home… just pictures of smoke detectors, appliances, the fuse box, the FiOS box… basically just detail photos of things that need batteries, or that we’d want to know what the model numbers are, and those sorts of very practical details. lol I took one selfie for my Traveling Partner of my big big smile with the forest beyond our deck in the background, and sent that to him before I got in the car for the return trip. With the Independence Day weekend just ahead, there feels like more pressure to get things done “on schedule” than truly exists. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I sip my morning coffee. I smile, and glance at the time.

Move out priorities often differ from move in priorities. We’ve held back from packing the things we reliably use every day, because we’re still using them. At some point, all that has to be packed, too. The moving in needs also revolve around what we need first, but the needs change a bit. I don’t think our computers will be a high priority until after our bedroom is ready for sleep, our kitchen ready for cooking, and our bathrooms ready for personal care. Entertaining ourselves has mattered greatly leading up to the move out. The move in, though, is more than a little entertaining (as well as laborious), without connectivity, without computers, without videos, music, or games. I find myself feeling far more relaxed that with previous moves, and prepared to be comfortably flexible with the different approach we each take to the move. My Traveling Partner has a plan for the move. I have a plan for the move. Our plans overlap in spots, but emphasize different details. I work consciously on “staying in my lane” and trusting he has details handled, just as he does for the details I’m handling. It feels fun, and emotionally safe, and secure. Team work. I sit smiling quietly, sipping coffee, grateful for this partnership, and this (so far) easy move.

I’m finding it a bit hard to finish my writing this morning…but it’s most definitely time to wrap it up, and begin again. 🙂

I am relaxing on a summery afternoon, sipping blackberry flavored fizzy water. I check the label. “Natural flavors”. Sure, okay, but… it doesn’t really taste like blackberries. I mean… it wants to. It fails. Real blackberries have a certain something to their flavor that must be very difficult to capture, preserve, or duplicate. I search my recollection for any commercial product at all that really tastes like blackberries. I don’t think of one. I let it go. Life has a few mysteries, perhaps this is one? Regardless of the lack of real blackberry flavor, the fizzy water is cool and refreshing, and not so much fizz as to feel sharp or unpleasant on my tongue. I sit with the experience a little while. It’s enough to enjoy the pleasant moment on a warm spring afternoon.

I listen to the traffic on the busy street at the end of the driveway of this rented duplex. The paperwork is done. The appointment to sign this and that is set for a day next week. The weekend ahead feel relaxed, and purposeful. I smile at the moving boxes, and look over my “to do list”. I won’t miss the traffic, the busy street, or the noisy neighborhood.

I don’t have to miss the roses; my container garden will move with us. 🙂

I take a moment for fond appreciation of the human being that is my Traveling Partner. He’s done much to make this move organized, and comfortable. He knows how much moving disrupts the routines that support my day-to-day emotional wellness and preserve the general appearance that I adult skillfully. It’s not that I don’t, I guess generally I do, these days. It’s nice to have some help with the busy-ness and clutter of life, though. He makes a point of reminding me that now is time to finish up the packing and organizing. For a couple week’s he’s been tenderly reminding me to take a breath, and slow things down. Timing matters. He gets that for me it matters a great deal, and doesn’t tease me over it. (Well, maybe a little…) He’s considerate and caring, and the moments when we frustrate each other have been few. This is certainly an easier, more emotionally comfortable, move for me, of all the moves I’ve made since… yeah. Since ever, I guess. I don’t have a recollection of a move that has been more organized, settled, or joyful. It’s pleasant. Like this blackberry fizzy water; it doesn’t need to be explained or solved. I remind myself to enjoy the experience, and sit quietly with my gratitude, for a bit longer.

The titular moment I’m waiting for is that moment ahead. The one with the signing? No. The one with the house keys. The one when I park my car in my driveway – our driveway – for the very first time. Home.

Home

…There’s a new garden to plan. Roses. Dahlias. Maybe jasmine and honeysuckle, too. Herbs in pots, and summer veggies in raised beds… I feel happy tears well up, and a smile so big it makes my face hurt.

My sigh fills the room. The sound of contentment. Another glance at my list of packing tasks I plan to tackle this weekend. Another sigh. Less contented, more resigned. I’m reminded briefly of the work involved, by the physical pain I am in. I shrug it off, unconcerned about that. The work involved is worth overcoming or enduring it. It’s a very human experience. Fucking hell, I’m so glad I’m not doing this move alone, or having to impose on friends, or hire strangers. This move feels intimate, connected, and shared, in a different way. I think back on other moves – was I adequately grateful, and did I say so, all those times I’ve imposed on friends for help, when I moved? Maybe not… I haven’t always been the woman I am… hell, even now, it’s often a solid real-time effort to be the woman I most want to be… a very human experience, indeed. I add “say thank yous for past moves” to my list of things to do. Dear friends have sometimes traveled great distances just to help me move. I am beyond fortunate.

…I remind myself to spend a day writing letters to friends and family from the new address, once we’re moved in. I took a handful of days off to do the move – more to give myself a chance to get used to the new space, new routines, new sounds and new shadows, than anything to do with unpacking boxes. I’ve learned a few things about caring for this fragile vessel over the past decade. There will certainly be time to write a few letters. 🙂

I listen to the birdsong and the breeze, and wonder what songs the birds will be singing (or, more accurately, what sorts of birds will be singing their songs) from the new deck, looking out into a different wood. I think about the walks I will take on new trails. I think about what the change in perspective may mean for my journey. I remind myself, as I have so often before, to “stay on the path”.

Seems to be very effective so far… probably doesn’t hurt that the path is mine, and that I choose it myself.

Maybe it’s not too late in the day, on a Friday, for another cup of coffee…? Certainly, it is not too soon to begin again. 🙂

Did you see that house?? Wow – check out that car! Designer clothes…limited edition printings…specialized or customized decor…exotic rare flavors, places, experiences… What do you aspire to? More? Much more? Go big or go home! Dream big! Shoot for the moon! More…further…better…
A wow moment on an ordinary day.

A wow moment on an ordinary day.

No wonder I feel so pushed sometimes. It’s a very big world, and there are so many opportunities, so many wonders, and challenges, so many things to try or experience – I guess I’m not surprised that so many folks chase some dragon or another, looking to fulfill themselves, or achieve one goal or outdo some standard or expectation, hit a noteworthy benchmark, impress someone, or climb some mountain, ladder, or heap.
Soap bubbles are also 'real'.

Soap bubbles are also ‘real’.

I know a man with a spectacular home. He bought it for his own reasons, perhaps because his last home wasn’t ‘enough’. He shopped a long while before he found what he was looking for. I still don’t really understand his choice. He bought a mammoth home, worthy of being called ‘an estate’, well off the everyday beaten path, and far out of view of any sight of ‘economic distress’ in a place of exquisitely preserved nominally natural loveliness… it’s huge. Quite large. Well and good, of course, for his substantial family… wait… no, he lives alone, generally. He has just one child (living far away), and no likelihood of grandchildren, not even a dog by his side. Many rooms, much square footage, and more than much else, it boldly states ‘here lives a man who is economically successful’. It’s very fancy. His own tastes, as a man, seem quite simple. He has worked hard and as much as his understanding of the world permits, he is an ethical and good man. He seems mild of temperament, professionally competent, and decent. He tends to be modest and self-effacing when confronted directly, or in conversation, by ‘someone better’ than he sees himself; it is clear that the superiority in question is a matter of financial success. He treats a man with more money as likely to be simply smarter, wiser, more right more often, in a word – better.  If success is measured in dollars, square footage, rarity, or exclusivity, then perhaps a very grand house is an excellent value in communicating that success to the world.
This says something about who we are.

This says something about who we are.

What does that house mean? Oh – not to him, because how that house meets his needs, or what value it has for him, isn’t really relevant to me at all. Not my house. Not my family. Not my measure of success. It’s just an anecdote about a guy with a house.
The basics, walls, windows, a roof, a door.

The basics, walls, windows, a roof, a door.

When I was much younger, in my 20s, I loved shoes, and clothes, and traveling to destinations; most of my disposable income went to those opportunities. I aspired to all sorts of ‘greatness’ and hit the mark once in a while, and struggling and suffering when I didn’t. I pushed myself hard and continuously to ‘succeed’. I defined success based on a number of things that were economic in nature, and certainly each of us is free to define success in our own way… only… I wasn’t doing that, at all. I was defining success as I had been told to define it, based on someone else’s measure of success. (I think we all start there.) Many of us find our own way to re-defining success in our own terms. (I did, eventually.) The discovery that ‘clothes don’t matter’ was an important game-changer for me. I came home from war substantially changed of mind and heart, and on the scale of clothes and shoes it was obvious.  It took a while longer and a house to teach me why ‘clothes don’t matter’, and the nature of sufficiency. I’m still learning.
"Kuwait; Oil Fires" 26" x 48" oil on silk.

“Kuwait; Oil Fires” 26″ x 48″ oil on silk.

Funny thing, though… that house… You see, having a home, a place of my own, somewhere I could always come back to, however far I strayed, somewhere to count on… that has been a measure of success for me, for a very long time.  I get excited about fancy big homes with ‘tons of features’, so much so that I recently allowed myself to be entirely de-railed from a thoughtful, reasoned, careful house-hunting process by the dangled temptation of something bigger, better, fancier… more. More than I need, for sure. I noticed when it happened, but the pure addictive delight of the daydream in front of me was intoxicating, and fully distracting from something far far more important to me – ‘enough’. An important lesson in attending closely to my own needs, my own goals.
It's a trap!

It’s a trap!

Sufficiency. Contentment.

Sure, I suppose a million-dollar home in an exclusive gated community of like-minded individuals surrounded by landscaped scenery, safe behind efficient alarm systems, and deeply invested in society by way of a hefty mortgage would be one way to shout “I am a success!” to the world. Having a big house with plenty of room, and rooms, and features, and space, and customized to suit my taste for color and design would be very aesthetically pleasing, and potentially very comfortable and satisfying. It might satisfy some wants, fulfill some desires, even meet some needs. It would answer a very different question than “What is enough?”

For me, a grand house could not be described as ‘necessary’. It would not be about ‘meeting my needs’, and however often words about needs might be spoken by someone with the money to buy such a grand house, a house like that is not likely to be about needs. A house like that is about wants, and wanting, about craving, acquisition, and fighting discontent with possessions, and communicating status to the world. What need does one human being have for a house of many rooms, many bathrooms, many many square feet, broad expanses of lawn, yard, or acreage, neatly landscaped, arranged, and managed in accordance with the community covenants and homeowner’s association guidelines? I firmly assert again, it is not about needs, or meeting needs, at all.

I know what I need. I need enough. Sufficiency. Safe, secure, sheltered from inclement weather, adequate protection from the unknown intentions of those who might wish me ill, a place where I feel nurtured, at ease, content, and ‘at home’. I need a home, far more than I need a house. I’ve lived in reasonable comfort for months in a tent, in good company, well-provisioned, and feeling both safe and secure. I’m pretty sure ‘my real-estate’ in that circumstance measured something like 20 sq ft. The more-than-dozen of us sharing that tent had about 500 sq ft together. It seemed, at the time, rather generous. Most of the time it felt like ‘enough’. Clearly ‘enough’ isn’t about square footage, stone walls, expanses of lawn, HOA by-laws, elegant roof-lines, granite counters, upgrade appliances, or gated communities. What is ‘enough’? What is ‘home’?

One of the flavors of 'home'.

One of the flavors of ‘home’.

Home. Yeah. Home is high on my list of priorities. Getting there is just starting to peek over the horizon on my vast to-do list of personal growth, and desirable achievements…and I don’t even know yet everything I ‘need’ to measure my success there… other than ‘enough’.  Excess is a burden. Delighting in excess is a fast track to being a shitty human being. lol.
What's your pleasure?

What’s your pleasure?

I probably wouldn’t be a really first-rate minimalist. I’ll be honest about that. I like some luxuries, and my aesthetic preferences result in the possession of the occasional object or two without purpose beyond beauty, but there, too; I call the shots on my idea of success, and only I truly know what meets my needs, and what those needs are, and why. I recognize the possibility that some solitary person with vast wealth might truly ‘need’ a huge grand house of many rooms filled to the rafters with carefully placed exquisite objects that reflect their taste and experiences, reminders of other things and moments, and perhaps such vast wealth truly results in a life so well-lived that the accumulated possessions truly fill such a grand house in a predictable and commonplace way. It’s possible. I have books, paintings, paperweights… having space to display them might seem a necessity from some perspectives, and certainly practical objects like books lose value when they are boxed up, labeled, and put into storage. I would be less satisfied to be without books, and the wee library space I have put together in my current house satisfied my heart when I finished that project. If I had more books, I’d ‘need’ more space. It’s not quite the sort of ‘need’ I’m really on about, though… and the small library I have is just bookshelves along a wall in a mostly unused corner. It meets my needs. It is enough.

I’m spending some time reconsidering my discontent in all manner of things, and the questions I am asking myself are ‘What do I really need?’ and ‘What is enough?’ I have never found contentment – or happiness – in ‘more’, ‘bigger’, ‘better’, or ‘further’. I have found it in sufficiency, in appreciation, in gratitude. I may want ‘more’, I only need ‘enough’.