I have been feeling restless these past few days. The restlessness is undoubtedly linked to the real possibility that we will be headed to our home within the next few days, perhaps to sleep there as soon as a week from today. I don’t have identifiable feelings about moving but I feel feelings. They must be about the move.
Much is made of going out into the world. I always thought that was a key tenent of being a good steward to the world. I thought that going out into the world taking your gifts and talents and adding them to others was the only real chance we had for salvation of the world we live in. I believed it was through cooperation and compassion and caring for each other and for the world’s resources that we could forge a future where all of us could live. I still believe that. It is an impossible dream but it is the belief that underpins who I am and underpins my going out into the world.
These past months since the fire have taught me that it is not just going out into the world but it is coming in from the world that is hard. I always viewed coming in as sinking back into the familiar. I recognize that for some it is the familiarity of horror. We are blessed with gentle familiarity.
I have been planning and squirreling things away for this coming day. I have things for our little apartment to make it special. For when the time comes in the spring to move upstairs, I have things for the big house to make it special. I spent three quarters of a year learning how not to have my old house and I have spent a year learning how to have this new house.
For twelve long months I have lived in my head building our house. In my mind, and on the 3D modeling I have learned on my computer the space is real. It is inhabited by me, and by my spouse and my family. My sister lives in the Cruise Ship. It is her place. We are using it until the upstairs house is finished but it is her place. While she may never actually live there, we designed it around what would be special to her.
There are other spaces like that in the house; spaces where different people in our lives would like to be. Perhaps it is a particular spot where the sun shines in a particular way. It might be a rug or a room. In our old house we had one guest room that did double duty. It was my spouses’ mother’s room and it was our niece’s room. We had two large baskets that held the things to change out the room depending on the guest. We started doing that when my niece came to spend part of the summer with us. We wanted her to feel at home so we went on a “teen” decorating spree before she came. We scoured junk stores and overstock shelves looking for things pink and bright stripes. I found the most delectable striped quilt and in another store found sheets with polka dots in the same colors. We found a “mod” rug. The room was completely transformed from its previous Mom’s room version.
When she left we promised to keep her things for her and that she could have her room when she came back. We packed the striped quilt, the polka dot sheets and the blue curtains, the mod rug with its brightly colored squares, the pink cardboard boxes, and her polka dot towels carefully into two wicker baskets. For our Mom we returned from the baskets the wooden train, the hand made quilts and the woodland paintings. For our Mom we placed the 1850 edition of Washington Irving’s Adventures of Captain Bonneville. We placed the Chinese stool with its shinny black lacquer decorated by brightly painted peonies that had been my grandmothers.
We did the room change more than once. We could do it in a short afternoon top to bottom but it was like two different worlds. The room welcomed into it the person who came to be in it.
My niece is older now so pink stripes and polka dots are no longer perfect for her. She still likes strings of lights. I have a string of them. They will welcome her. The walls shall be yellow. Another family member said he wanted them that way. He wanted something cheering.
The chairs for the dining room are for my mom. She passed from this world years ago but her chairs became ours. The ones that will arrive later this week are like the ones that she gave us that then burned in the fire.
Each room has a history. Nothing in the house is casually there. It has been thought out and planned. It has been balanced with the other things we have brought into our lives in the past months. When we were building the more formal and larger house in Idaho, I had spread sheets for each room. I made sure that I had sheets and bed covers, curtains and lamps, chairs and rugs, end tables and books for each room. After we decided to stop building that house I set aside my spread sheets. Now we are almost finished with our new house The things are spread out into different places but each has a home.
It is not clear to me what it will mean to go into the house. I know what it is like to go out from the house. I know what it is like to be in the world. Because of the fire, I know what it is like to be in the world without have a place to return from it.
This morning I said to my spouse that I felt like I was heading home after a long trip. Before we retired, we sometimes took weeks long international work trips. After a while we were worn out but kept going since there were things that had to be done. As time to return home approached we were not filled with excitement and anticipation, the weariness of being away from home in strange cultures working on difficult tasks blunted our ability to feel that. When we wearily returned there was always a moment of unreality when it was not clear if you were just coming form the store or coming from being gone a month.
This is how I feel about impending move. It is returning to home and I am too tired to fully take that in. I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed in my own house in my own space but I am not sure I know what that means. Having been out in the world these many months, I am not sure what it will mean to go in to our home.