Saturday. 4:34 pm. 95 Degrees F (35 C).
The house is pleasant with the window air conditioner working in the living room and the portable air conditioner at the other end of the house in the kitchen. We’ve been puttering all day, only pausing briefly to check outside on how hot the hot really was. Julia unpacked our CDs onto the rack. I rearranged furniture; consolidated boxes, put the IKEA tv table together, organized the electric cords for the tv, air conditioner and internet, put stuff that I have no room for on Facebook Marketplace and answered email. It has been a productive day but strangely unsatisfying.
I have 10 boxes left to unpack (There are more boxes in the basement but most are storage boxes. At least, for now.). Inside the 10 boxes is art, pictures, and decoration. Funny, I think I started with 10 boxes of art, etc., and I’ve unpacked a few. Is the art multiplying?
I find myself almost every day, walking around the house, picking up stuff, putting stuff where I think it will fit in and/or finding a space for it. I am beginning to get used to my stuff in this strange space. The space is becoming less strange—living on one floor with a long thin hall separating the public rooms from the private—the layout of the rooms begins to feel normal. (The bathroom is still too small. It may take a long time to get used to that.) The sofa, the chairs and the desks are beginning to lose their places on Emerson Street. I see this most in the living room where the furniture was placed in new positions on moving in day. The couch and rug and rocking chair are melting into the normal of this space. The third bedroom/study where books and desks live is beginning to feel comfortable. I don’t remember how long it took to stop seeing the out-of-place-ness of furniture and stuff when we first move to Madison.
Some of this hyper-awareness of where we belong, where out belongings belong has to do with making this new home alone. David and I moved enough during our youngest years together that home was wherever we were together. Now, home is what I am making, where I am making it. Intentionally. The process has shifted and I am following the shift.
Julia: Where is our kitchen?
Me: What do you mean?
Julia: Our old kitchen in Madison. Is someone else using it?
Me: Yes. It is someone else’s kitchen now.
Julia: I miss it. Remember the little table that folded down.
Me: I miss our kitchen too.
Julia: Will we have it again?
Me: No. Not that kitchen or that table.
Julia assured me that this was a good house too. I understand her need to state the obvious. I too need to sooth myself with: This is a good house and we will make it ours. As much as furniture and belongings are melting into this space, art and decoration are not. Not yet. I look at a picture and can only see where it fit into the constellation that was my Madison walls.
Funny. I have said that apart from friends, my roots in Madison were shallow. Perhaps making a home there, remaking the home after David died that belonged to just myself and Julia made for special roots that wrapped themselves around our souls. And now we are transplanting. Reminds me of separating iris corms in the garden. The bulbous corms grow over and around each other, sometimes like interlocking fingers. The roots like unruly kid hair after a night of tossing and turning. Separation takes more time and patience than I’ve set aside for it. I had not recognized it for the deep work of spirit that it is. The process takes as long as it takes and maybe a bit longer. It is grieving what is lost and opening to what is unfamiliar. The calendar needs to be tossed away.