Playing House

April 3, 2014

A close friend asked me, “How are you doing?”

I blurted, “I think I’m shell-shocked. I’ve gone from euphoria to ‘Now reality has hit.'”

She laughed and said, “I hate when that happens.”

I’m at that moment in the process of moving when my brain is completely on overload. I feel paralyzed as I survey all the stuff that needs to be put away (plus all the stuff still in storage) and all the cleaning, sweeping, and painting still to be done—plus the unreturned emails and phone calls piling up as we speak. And I can’t find anything. After spending a good half hour looking for my Day-Timer, I began to have this vague recollection that I took it with me to Rainbow Bridge last night. For some odd reason, instead of making a list on scrap paper I made hasty notes on the April 2 page–just to make sure that in the chaos of moving I wouldn’t lose the list. So ironic! I must have left it at the checkout counter.

Last night, even with fresh breezes blowing through all afternoon, and with all the windows still open, the back of the house had a somewhat musty smell. As part of the ritual of moving in, I wanted to have my own smell the first night I slept here. While animals mark their turf the practical way, I got some citrus air freshener, some honeysuckle incense, a bundle of sage, and a vanilla-scented candle. And I was so excited to have a working oven again that I also got a supply of sweet potatoes–not just to eat, but expressly for the sweet, homey baking aroma.

Late last night, after five years of house sharing, renting rooms, and my one-room cabin/writing-hut lifestyle, the ancient rituals of homemaking felt for all the world like playing house. Unpacking clothes, making my bed, lighting candles, scrubbing sweet potatoes, taking a bath . . . everything was fun-fun-fun! I was well aware that this basking and reveling in finally having a whole house to myself once more might never again feel this intensely enjoyable.

When I woke at dawn, the spirit was still willing but the flesh was dragging. Had it not been for the Time Warner guy scheduled to show up at 8 a.m., I’d have closed my weary eyes and gone back to dreamland. Instead, as soon as it was light I drove to my storage unit to look for my phone. A half hour later, my fingers were frozen but there it was, sitting in a box of kitchen stuff. When the phone man had finished wiring, installing, programing, testing, etc., I noticed that the only outlet in my soon-to-be office needed one of those adapters . . . and so the day of endless moving-day tasks, errands, and unforeseen glitches went on and on and on . . .

When you’re bone-tired, all the stuff that felt like child’s play yesterday suddenly feels like a lot of work. You start to wonder if all this effort to keep the mortal body going is worth it. Even the effort to remind yourself that it will all look different after a nap, after some supported inverted poses, feels like a great exertion.

These thoughts were whirling in my head as I wheeled my flat-tired, too-long-unridden bicycle and spider-infested bike cart around to the back of the house. I reminded myself that one of the main reasons I’m moving back to town is so I can again live a mostly car-free existence.

After cleaning my bike, installing a new garden hose, unpacking the industrial-strength broom, and placing the new “Wipe Your Paws” doormat by the front door, I noticed an older couple walking up the driveway toward me. I heard the woman say, “Hello, we’re your neighbors!” I had met the man briefly earlier in the day, and now apparently he’d told his wife that someone new was moving in next door. And even though I’d hastened to add that I wasn’t new to Ojai, here she was giving me a welcoming hug and handing me a promising bottle of red wine . . . such a nice gesture!

The post office bells are singing a happy tune. Already this new old house feels like home. The pressure to get everything done today has dissipated. Time for yoga. Time to walk the dogs. And time to go to bed early. — in Ojai, CA.


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