30 January 2012


Dropping Nora off at the middle school this morning, I saw a teacher heading into the building who had 1) wet hair and 2) an above-the-knee skirt with pantyhose on. I looked down at the thermometer in my car: 34.

Some people don't seem so bothered by the cold. I wish I were one of them. I wish I were tougher. Stronger. Better with tools. Wish I never got tired.

I am looking at the million projects at our new house as an opportunity to learn some new things. So far I haven't even been able to get a set of blinds put up. Joe has managed several plumbing repairs and has learned to disassemble an entire double-hung 100+ year old sash window. Among other things.

Saturday I went out in the yard for a bit and did a little raking. There are a couple of seasons worth of leaves all around. The yard is cute and has a lot of potential. Too bad I know nothing about gardening. Regardless, we are looking forward to the springtime, when we get to see what living things emerge from the ground. Kind of a neat surprise this first year.

We are still working on cleaning out the attic. Its horribly filthy up there and it gets me sneezing something awful when I work up there. Slowly we are tossing the junk and we have scored a few treasures along the way. Nora found a huge stamp collection which she is really enjoying, and I found an amazing metal desk lamp that simply needed a new cord. I say simply because for Joe, replacing the cord *was* simple. I would have never known how to do it. Found a little table for Nora's aquarium, boxes of old letters from the 60s, and a couple more 10 gallon aquariums.

I never thought I was very good at the domestics, but it seems like I have fallen back on my cleaning skills as my most useful contribution so far to Harrison St. And it needs to be done, for sure. But how did I get to be almost 39 and suddenly feel so inept in so many areas? Sometimes it feels like the farther I go in life, the more I see undone ahead of me. Trying to fall back again on the skill of existing in the moment.

23 January 2012

New Bearings in a New Place

My new neighborhood is different from my old one. It's darker, and quieter. I sleep much better here. There is a white fence around our space which quietly states: This is Ours. So far, only the local cats dare to defy the message and lap from our birdbath at their leisure. Our own cat is still too chicken to stay out for more than a few minutes. Once the king of the hill at the old place, he's still scoping out the competition cautiously.

This place is very diverse. We have condemned, crumbling houses and we have small mansions. But everyone is friendly and waves hello. We are somewhere in the middle, of course. We might describe ourselves as Decent. Pretty good house, looks nice on the outside, but no antiques on the inside.

It's quite a process, turning a house into a home. We'd been in the other place for so long. We've been here for weeks and there is still lots of piles of stuff just waiting to be dealt with. We are learning that you just have to start putting things up like you know what you're doing. It can always be changed later. That's what makes it start to feel like home. It's nice to have more elbow room. Finally, our dining room doesn't have to be a multipurpose craft room/library/study. We put the computer in the craft room and it feels right. No more computer in our bedroom. No more TV right by the front door with people passing in front of it all the time.

Of course, there are things about the old house that were better. Much more cabinet and closet space, for one thing. We are having to get really creative in how we deal with that issue and sometimes it's frustrating. But it's all a process. Change can be uncomfortable. One must look forward.

From this spot in my craft room where I am writing, there is a window which overlooks the Johnson OB clinic. It is a place that I very much desired to work. That place had a lot to do with me going back to school to get my LPN, so that I could make a career out of working with pregnant women. And here I am today, working as a rheumatology nurse. A good job, to be sure. But not my dream. Every day now, I look out the window and I am reminded of that dream. A dream that took up 15 years of my life and countless hours and efforts. And I find that it's a good reminder, that we have to allow ourselves to go wherever we are meant to go, and that most of the time, we have no idea where that is.  Yes, sometimes I envy people who seem to have the resources and the circumstances to do whatever they want. But in the end I feel peaceful. I have a loving partner and we have a vision for the rest of our life together, and the rest will work itself out.

02 January 2012

The Lonely Soul of an Empty House

It is bad for a house to sit empty for more than a short while. Devoid of the din and movement of human life, it begins to decay. Grime settles onto the floor- they don't look too bad at first, but after 5 or 6 runs with the mop the water in the bucket is still turning dark gray. It takes on a smell that can only be called lonely, a smell like empty rooms and closed windows. I think houses can feel lonely. They want to be used; after all, that is their purpose.

We are moving into a lonely house. The kids can feel this, and it feels uncomfortable. It's not Home, it's cold and everything echoes. The wallpaper and the paint are not ours; they were chosen by strangers. It will take time to love these new rooms and to groom them into a place in which we feel an emotional embrace when we walk in the front door. It will take time.

The house wants to be loved. Generations of families have climbed the stairs and kissed in the bedrooms and cried in the kitchen. Now it is our turn.

The house we are leaving will not sit empty. It has a new family waiting to come in and love it. Nineteen years ago when we were just children of 19 ourselves and knew nothing about loving a house, we moved there and the house had been sitting empty. Its occupant had fallen asleep smoking on her couch and started a smoldering fire. It was her misfortune that brought us to our first home. The house was repaired and put on the market for a pittance by the elderly sibling who all the trouble was bequeathed to. That house was lonely too- it's sole occupant of 30 years had left it- but it was August and there was enough sun streaming in the windows to chase the sadness into the corners. The floors were still just as grimy and we had almost no furniture to fill the many rooms. Over the years we filled it with children and many other things, and it came to life.

This new house is going to come back to life through the touch of our hands and the sound of our laughter.It will take some time but one of these days we will walk through its rooms and realize, quite suddenly, that it feels like Home.