Sunday, August 16, 2015

Land and Houses

“How does it feel to be a homeowner?” is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately. 

Caleb asked me last night, after we got back to our new place. We’d just spent some time crying at our old place, the sunny rental house with soft, clean carpet and rooms empty of furniture, but full of memories.

I gave him my most honest answer yet, “Meh.” 

“Oh good,” he responded. “You’re feeling the same way I am.”

You can read more about our conflicting feelings about moving here

Today, as I wander the yard tending my plants who also endured the move, I look at and try to listen to the land. I pay my tax to the mosquitos who live here, only two bites this time. It sinks in that I am also a landowner. As soon as it sinks in, it makes me laugh. 

Owning land is a strange idea. I think a lot about the history of this slice of the planet I call home. It used to be prairie, part of the plains. It was (and is) near a river. It had softly rolling hills. Animals roamed it, wildflowers and innumerable edible plants grew abundantly. 

The land has been here for hundreds of thousands of years. Our house is close to 70 years old. While we may be the owner on paper, we are really just the dwellers. We inhabit the house and care for the land. This carries a sense of responsibility. We are going to ask our little slice of land to help us do some things, like collect rain water and help us turn our food scraps back into earth. We’ll put up a clothesline and plant food. But the land is also asking something of us. And so, we also listen and try to hear what it’s asking us to do. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

On concerts

I attended my first [popular music] concert at the age of 22.

And ever since then, I have disliked concerts.

If you love concerts, hear me out.

The concert I attended when I was 22 was outside. It was loud and there was lots of cigarette smoke. I hate loud music and cigarette smoke. People throw so many things you can recycle in the trash. You can't bring your own reusable water bottle, thanks to a few people who smuggled in alcohol and ruined it for the people who want to stay hydrated.

If you buy the kind of tickets I have to buy to concerts (the cheapest ones, which are still super expensive), there is usually nowhere that is not gross to sit.

I recently attended a concert inside. It was a small-ish concert, inside a dark bar (dislike) with posters for all the bands who would be coming next. Most bands had grotesque graphics and dark names. The artist I was seeing sang songs about peace, nature, harmony, unity. I watched the bartenders and concert-goers throw away huge amounts of recycling, while an opening act sang about the evils of Monsanto and received loud cheers. I felt confused. There was no cigarette smoke, but there was a different kind of smoke. I learned, from my concert-experienced husband, that you do not mention that it smells like that kind of smoke. Oops. Sorry about that, fellow concert-goers. I also learned from him that you should not wear the shirt of the band or artist you are going to see; and I learned (too late) that you should not spend the whole day listening to that artist in preparation for the show.

We sat (sat!) through an opening act that was fine, a second opening act, which required ear plugs (dislike). Then it was time. Earplugs in place, we got up and pushed our way into the sea of sweaty, swaying bodies. It was about 15 degrees warmer in that part of the room. We found our spot. It was like ten pm. My bedtime.

And then it happened. The artist we had come to see came on the stage. He looked different from the last two times we'd seen him. He started playing. And, despite disliking almost everything else about the whole concert experience, I knew why I had come. The energy that lights up the room, when you are all standing there, swaying and sweating on each other, singing, is beautiful. It lights up the dark place. Maybe that's why bars are so dark... it helps you to see the colors of the music. And so we stayed, dancing as much as you can in a tiny space, singing, cheering, laughing, trying not to be too grossed out when the people around us brushed their sweaty arms against ours. Most importantly, we felt. We felt the magic of the music, the presence of the humans around us, the connection with the songwriter. And I began to feel that I might like concerts. Just a little bit. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

thoughts on the eve before purchasing our first house

I really love this house. Not the one we're buying, though I do like it, and believe that I will grow to love it over time. But I really love the house where we're living now. 

Where we live now is just the right size for us - small enough to deep clean top to bottom in 5 hours by yourself. Small enough that we can hear each other in any part of it. Big enough that when we each need space behind a closed door, we can have it. Big enough to host a friend and they can have their own bedroom. Big enough to host a New Year's Eve party, but small enough that it still feels intimate. I love the way we bump elbows in the bathroom and circulate for mirror space. I love that the kitchen is big enough for dancing, and the living room is big enough for handstands, but neither room is too big. You don't get lost in them when you're there alone. 

Our new house is big. It has an upstairs and a downstairs and a basement. I am glad for the basement, but I loved (in some peculiar way) the way it felt to slide down the ramp to the root cellar during a tornado last month. It was strange and scary and fun somehow. In our new house, there is a living room and a dining room and a family room and two bedrooms all downstairs. Plus more rooms upstairs. What are we going to do with so much space? It feels scary and not cozy. It feels too big, too much. I don't want there to be a whole room just for one couch. It's important to me to have free space, but not too much. 

I've been avoiding packing. Sure, I packed a few things, here and there, things we could live without. But I just like how our things fit so neatly in this space. How, after a few times rearranging, we achieved the perfect flow from our front door to every room in the house. (It's easier when there are only five rooms in the whole place.) But now we are going to be two people swimming in a big house. I don't like it. The real reason I want to put in a door to the garage is because I like being able to stick my head out and see Caleb when he is doing things. I like that this whole house (the current house) is on one level. 

It's hard to make decisions about things like paint and furniture arrangements, and to be honest, I don't want to arrange furniture. I like how it is where I live now. I don't want to think about paint. I like the color of my walls now.

But we can't stay here. We have to move, our landlord told us. 

So I cry just like I cry in conjunction with all the major life events, out of respect for the beauty that has come before them, and recognizing that a time has come to an ending. I cried before I finished 8th grade. I cried on the way to my high school graduation. I cried before I graduated from college. I cried before I got married, also connected to a move. And I cry now, before we buy a house. I accept that this is my way of processing things, of mourning seasons of life. I let myself cry.

And I try to remind myself that after all those other times when I cried, beautiful things happened afterwards. There's a rhythm that's been established.  I will try to let it carry me while bidding farewell to a place I love.