Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dreams of a Would-Be Domestic Diva

I love homes. Other people's homes, mostly.

Smaller ones more than bigger ones. Cottages and bungalows? One of each, please!

In a lifetime of looking and planning and hoping and dreaming of my own perfect abode, however, I've come up square against a reality: I am not a domestic diva. In fact, if there is an opposite thing, I am closer to that. Although I spend much of my time at home (a nondescript urban apartment with linoleum flooring in every room), I'm often busier hatching plans for how I'm going to improve this place than truly living in it

So. Not. Me.

What would it take for me to do that?

Step one: a vigorous cleaning. That alone would be a triumph. Step two: excising one third of everything I own. Give it away, sell it, upcycle, downcycle, recycle, set it on the sidewalk with a "good stuff free" sign. Let it go, with a minimum of public scene-making. Step three (if by some miracle steps one and two didn't kill me), make the leap from Pinterest boards and shelter magazines to actually putting up curtains. Putting down rugs. Assume the post of chatelaine of my own shoebox. 

And I know precisely where I keep that serrated grapefruit spoon!

In other words, moving in. Setting down. Not waiting until Mr. Right #2 comes along to be happy in my own home. Not holding on to clutter and procrastination and "good enough-ness", because hey, I'm a grown-up now! Because by now I hate moving. Hate it. 

It's time to root again. To nest, and to rest.

I nested once in great earnest, when I was married a few years, but closeness turned to chaos and we went our own ways. His unhappiness with my housekeeping (if you want to call it that) was a major plank in his platform of marital reform. The platform failed, apparently due in large part to my lack of enthusiasm for the domestic arts. 

I'd rather be reading, darling. Now buzz off.

There are people who have been in this building 20 years. If I'm still here in 20 years, I might have to question where I went wrong, but when I look at their apartments, those who've been here that long, I see homes. Real homes. Made for living, comfort, company, making memories. With real furniture and rugs and lamps! (Sorry, IKEA). They respect themselves and their space by feathering their own nest well. 

Nothing too high end, but attractive, well kept, curtains on real rods (not the spring-loaded ones), hung from hooks instead of grommets. Real fabric shower curtains. A pedal-step wastebasket in the kitchen and the bathroom. Imagine that! China on shelves behind glass doors, framed art, a bedroom that's a haven. The finest room in the house (as it ought to be!)

See them sparkle! See them shine!

Most of all, everything is CLEAN. My kingdom for a Merry Maid! How do they work that kind of magic? What is the wizardry employed in keeping a house not just tidy, but consistently clean? It can't be as simple as a routine, can it? And if it's a routine, is it fatally boring? 

My relationship with housecleaning and housekeeping (what's the difference?) is fraught, to say the least. Truth is, it never got off the ground. We are uneasy roommates, housekeeping and me, an odd couple thrown together for these thirty years now, only grudgingly acknowledging the existence of the other. 

Perky and annoying. She lives in my head.

She wears a dress and an apron and wields a mixing bowl with confidence and flair, this busy little Swiffering bee. She hopes and plans and yearns for the day when all her big ideas (or even a few of her little ones) are realized in her own home. She asks, in all sincerity, whether this is what humans have been doing for thousands of years, since they left a largely nomadic existence behind. 

Well, it's complicated. And that's a trick question.

But I probably don't have another 48 years ahead of me. In spite of my aversion to buckets and brushes, a clean re-start seems the only way to launch my second act. Here and now, as if there is no better place to be. 

Because the present is, in the truest sense, the only home we can ever truly inhabit. And when I'm finished waxing philosophical and wise, I will do the dishes.  

Really, I will.

With Eyes Wide Open

“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.” ― Vincent van Gogh

"The morning breezes have secrets to tell; don't go back to sleep."  Rumi 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gray for comfort and rest.

As (almost) always, I wanted to cast a passel of pinks up on a post today. But restraint might be better, as I'm in a time of transition. Not all is pink and airy, except the passing daydream. And gray days often punctuate the bright ones.

They'll be back, the rosy hues and reveries.

Until then, some quiet reflection.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Letter

Today I wrote the letter
The words were graceful and clear
In this act of my un-mooring.

The long hoped for day
After the noise and the fight and
All the words unsaid. 

Now the story has been told.
Print has fallen from the pages
In my exultant hour.

Where will the music come from
When I wake in the birdless night
To furious silence?

The laughing stars in disarray
They mock and quarrel
And leave me lonely.

At the edge of the sea.
Where time disappears
I shall cast my emptiness on the water.

And hope to dream in miniature
Of fresh hollows and tender beds of green
And new birdsong. 

The animals appear and they know
Cloaked in their forms and furs
Together we will hibernate and hum.

Until the birds return
On wings the color of sky
Flying unafraid and free. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Where's the fun?

I've been in search of it for a while now. Kitten Girl passed in May. May 15th, to be exact. I carried her to her final rest, and it was a horrifying, traumatic experience. A long goodbye that didn't last nearly long enough.

She was 18.5 years old. To me, she will always and forever be my baby. I continue to grieve, and that grief complicated the holidays. To say that is an understatement, actually. The grief and longing really cleaned my clock.

There is a new cat, Miss Blue (aka Miss Bluebell Meadows). She's four, glamorous looking, long white hair, dark grey patches, gold eyes. She wants to be a part of my life, though she nearly escaped the car on the way home from the shelter in August. I'd post a photo here, but I can't do that, while I'm blogging about the memory of Kitten Girl. The memories and the loss, which keeps on happening over and over again.

This is a valley of the lost, between losing a deeply beloved and battling guilt over loving the new one. The new one who needs me as much as Kitten Girl ever did. I act as though everything is fine, that the color hasn't drained from my world, but there are days when I think I can't endure another minute. Having major depression helps none of this, of course. But there is no changing that lot, just living with it, living around it, living through it.

Sigh. I miss you, baby. Your Mummy misses you and always will.

But I lived for you once (because I couldn't desert you), and I don't know that I'd end up where you are now, if I chose not to live. Not sure about heaven or hell, and the terrifying possibility that maybe all there is left of our time together is your lock of fur, your ashes, your funny paw print in clay. And the smell of you in my mind. Your skin/fur smell. I breathed it so deeply, so often. Those things, and all the memories.

I knew it would be hard. I just didn't think the really bad feelings, the ones that cut me off at the knees, would come back around with such ferocity at Christmas. I didn't think it would be so powerful, this absence of you. When does the fun begin again? I'm awfully tired of this ride, but afraid to leave it, because if I'm not suffering, am I forgetting you?

Questions without answers.


p.s. There is no hidden message here. I plan to stick around. Not in danger of disappearing. If nothing else, I have a cat who needs me! :)