My house is calm, dustless, serene. The breeze is blowing gently through the windows. The air from a fan I’ve put on the floor is swanning around my ankles, as the ceiling fan in the living room makes its lazy laps.
I am drinking water from the barest-blue glass, bubbles forming on the bottom, the rim a brighter cyan.
It’s beautiful here. And I made this beauty. Aqua walls, ivory carpet, small collections of this-and-that are here and there. I meander through my home adjusting them, freshly stirring the memories to which each item is attached.
I’ve written a to-do list, with nicely drawn open squares next to each, a hungry bird’s mouth waiting for the ‘X’. Today I am working, in an attempt to put the order inside my brain that I have arranged outside of it, in my house. It’s been two (three, four, seven?) weeks of being dragged sideways on the workhorse, reins out of my hands.
At home, I can put away the dishes, fold the towels, dust the glass shelves, recycle the newspapers, sweep up stray crumbs, pull my hair back into a pony, arrange the pillows, plump up the cushions.
But I am sad, and the order can’t fill it.
When I was a little girl, and the occasional chaos in my house overwhelmed me (my father’s rage or my mother’s sad presence when in the embrace of depression, her closest ally), I would run up the stairs to my bedroom and furiously put everything away: pull the clothes kicked under the bed out from under, sort into clean and dirty, file away in the hamper or the drawers. Then organize the soft, furry mice dolls on my shelves in their costumes: king and queen, tennis star, clown, chef, a Frenchie in a beret and stripes, dozens more. Then organize my books, by author or color or title, depending on the day.
All that done, I would feel cleansed, renewed, buoyed up. And so would fling myself onto my bed on my stomach, kick up my legs behind me, and write a story in my diary to my future self, where everything would be just as I wanted it. No angry parents, no mother struggling to make sense of her life, no worries. I drew pictures of who would I become.
I got the apartment right, in many ways. I curate my surroundings (as did my mother, in her inimitable, elegant way), to bring me peace, to bring me beauty, to do my best to wrap myself in my bedrock belief that the world is meant to be peaceful, beautiful.
But serenity can slip into sadness, as is happening today. And so I thought I’d write myself a note before I turn back to my hungry, empty boxes, to say out loud: This isn’t what I thought it would be. And I don’t like how I feel. And I am trying to live these shitty feelings out loud, rather than let them ricochet around inside me and do a different kind of damage.
If I can’t have comfort, order, certainty in life, at least I can build it in my home so that it’s what see around me—even on the days when it shows me how very far I am from a true sense of having found my way “home.”