Hey, happy New Year, friends. Happy Epiphany, too, if that’s your sort of thing. It’s not exactly ours, but I’m planning on taking down our little holiday shrubbery this evening with Sam tonight all the same. Some things feel like they just need to be done the “right” way, regardless of whether or not one is observant, I guess.
I’m taking a break from editing and cleaning out my laptop to try and get some blogging done. The idea of taking time off of work in order to squeeze in a little more work seems silly when I take a few steps back, but this is such a pleasure when I sit down and get into it, it doesn’t seem like work at all. Why is it I don’t seem to make the time nearly as often? Largely it’s in knowing how easy the task is, I think: this takes just a second, I can get to it any time, so- well, I can get to it any time, so I’ll just get to it… later, right? Agh. I’m the worst for that recently.
Up until the last few weeks we have been so very overloaded, so anything little or easy has been pressed to the side- if it was a small, simple task that could be accomplished quickly, I’d plan to do it later, when I didn’t have any energy left, reserving my strength for the big, draining tasks. Seems like a clever way of taking on something massive like a move and a lifestyle overhaul, you know? And in part it absolutely was, except that you can only sustain that for so long before things start falling off, LIKE THEY ALWAYS DO, which I know, having used this technique with the EXACT SAME RESULTS before. The line will only hold for so long!
I’m catching up, and at least in this case it was mostly things like blog posts, not completely dropping big real life things. Without the pressure of an impending self- move, though, and all the associated planning, there’s all this room, now— space in which I can begin to really work, to think about work, to plan and breathe and really expand again. It’s been too long and the change is immediate.
It’s funny to write about having space in connection with this new home; we moved from a 1400+ sq. foot house with a shed, basement, and a studio to about a 800 sq. foot house (although there’s a basement here, too). We’d talked for a long time about downsizing and possibly looking into a tiny home, although with our pets we didn’t think we would go that route quite yet, if ever. 800 sq feet, though- that suits us beautifully. I was worried at first, I’ll admit— although some friends had commented on our having less “stuff” than other folks, Sam and I actually joke a lot about being hoarders between ourselves, because we are secretly terrified of being owned by our things. We occasionally feel a little oppressed/ tied down by how much we tote around with us— it’s just a bit much to worry about, take care of, CLEAN, etc. Especially the cleaning bit, y’all. I don’t mind getting into a little cleaning frenzy to work out some free- floating anxiety, but having a ton of junk that I need to clean, that’s for the birds.
We donated, sold, and gave away a LOT before we moved, and we are still coming up with creative storage solutions in order to make this place work for us. (It’s totally working well for us! We just need to use our thinking hats every so often, especially in the pantry.) While I recognize that some of our aversion to amassing possessions comes from a somewhat itinerant lifestyle and an overall fear of commitment (writes one of the most married people I know) there is something really awesome about being in love with most of the things in the house, as well as being able to lay hands on most of my things in short order. I mean, it’s 800 square feet; if I can’t find it pretty fast, it probably isn’t actually in the house.
I guess that also means this place could become a shitshow in a hot second, too- just a few poorly thought- through trips to Target could really throw this place into total disarray. So there’s that, too- a sort of built- in budgeting, or at least a “if I want to get this thing, I’ll need to take at least one thing out of the house to make space,” which appeals to the aging Yankee in me. It reminds me of some friends who live on a boat— as well as my folks, actually, who occasionally do the same! (Dad & Lily, you’ll get this new place in a serious way. I’m looking forward to showing you guys around.)
I miss Baltimore terribly, no surprise. I still read the Sun as my newspaper of choice- god, why, right? It’s so regional, and it’s really just self- torture. If I want something that’s good I should stick to City Paper- still regional, now owned by the Sun as well, but at least it is entertaining, damn. (I know. I’ll cut them some slack. But also, it’s the Sun.) It’s almost a visceral thing, this pull; I think of Baltimore as my home now, as where I’m from. A decade will do that, I guess.
I’m beginning to be seen as a new- regular in the gas station at the end of my street (there is always a gas station at the end of my street) and about two weeks ago the person making my coffee asked me where I was from. Without a hitch, I answered, “Baltimore,” and then realized, oh, no, not originally, is that a lie? How do you answer that question when you’re a grownup who has changed the definition of hometown in their own life too many times for the word to make sense any more? I didn’t correct myself— too awkward, who wants to know any of that about a stranger?— but it’s a weird spot. I would never claim Baltimore as my “hometown”, but I wouldn’t say I’m “from” Naugatuck, CT, either; I haven’t lived there since I was around 17 or so. I definitely grew up there, and don’t mind telling folks about the Valley, but nothing about that place is my home- there’s nothing for me there.
I am, though, all sorts of tied up in Baltimore. When I was in Afghanistan, sad & scared, heartsick & more homesick than I have felt in my entire life, I dreamed about Baltimore. Some of you know this story: I hung a map of the city on the plywood wall next to my bunk, pins in my favorite places- our house, Spinster Yarns, Kiddo’s school, Druid Hill Park- and I’d reach up and I’d trace them in the dark until I fell asleep when things were bad. My entire concept of “home” has been wrapped up in that city for a long, complicated time. (Leaving involved dealing with some pretty heavy concepts of attachment and aversion, friends. I’ve been giving my Buddhism a hardcore workout lately.) It’s amazing there, and for the right opportunity, I’d absolutely move back. There’s life in that city, possibilities, people. We have a family there— Kiddo, Zeke, friends, all our CY and yarnie people.
That’s another hard part— the hardest part of all, really; choosing to be apart from Kiddo & Zeke. It’s reminiscent of her time in college, but now it’s us making the decisions, and there is no summer holiday, no spring break. We had very good reasons- a lot of them!- for making this move, but we are not accustomed to being away from her, and it isn’t easy. I mean, we’ve kept our boundaries pretty clear, but we’ve also been companions for the last 21 years: I am used to having her here, with that droll commentary and infectious laugh. There is something quite gutting about leaving our daughter’s childhood bedroom behind us; I am much more sentimental than I want to be. (Feelings are fine and normal and good, etc, but inconvenient for daily living, you’ve got to admit.) Even writing about it brings up this desire to rush back and gather up that room, keep it perfect, still, museum- like and locked in time.
Things don’t work that way, though, and in reality what purpose would it serve, freezing that room? What a waste— of time, effort, materials, energy, everything. She’s off being a grown- ass lady, which is exactly as it should be, and we’re doing the empty- nest thing, which is this other exciting sort of thing. I do really hate not being able to drive half an hour to visit right now— okay, it was the Baltimore metro and we were using 695, so sometimes it was 30 minutes, some times it was an hour plus, but you get the idea, cities being cities, etc, etc. That part, that still feels something like having an appendage cut off, this strange emptiness. There are times when I catch myself thinking, I’ll text the kids, see if they want to- right, right, shit, not that. It’s jarring. We’re still settling into this- so much change within the span of six months. A year. Hell, two years.
Geography, like emotion, is inconvenient. Why hasn’t anyone invented teleportation yet? Engineers, inventors, tech entrepreneurs, I’m giving you all my very best side- eye right now. I don’t give a damn about fitness monitors, smart phones, foldable/ roll- up tablets, etc. Give me my teleportation devices and suitcase cars already. I feel lied to.
(Of course, it would be the Luddite who has the steepest demands from technology, right? You’d have the damnedest time trying to raise me on my mobile if I’m not expecting your call, but you bet your ass I expected a Jetsons future by 2016: if there are electric cars why can’t I put one in my purse? Yeah, that’s not how science works, me.)
And so we are adjusting. Working our way through boxes. Missing our Kiddo, and her partner, which makes it feel more like Kids; we refer to them in the plural, which confuses people. It’s cool. I paint a bunch lately, not terribly well but with loads of enthusiasm, which I think makes up for a lot. Sam makes lamps, which is new. They’re pretty cool. The dogs, they dog. We curl up together late in the evenings on the couch after dinner- which we can actually have together again now- and I knit while he tinkers. We are yet another step closer to our smaller life, and I think it’s all going to be okay. I really, really do.