Friday, August 31, 2012

Setting Up House, Again

You arrive to four walls, generally white ones. The rooms lack life, but you will provide that soon enough. Sometimes you can paint, sometimes you can hang pictures, but it is only for so long. I used to wonder what color carpet would be in my room. Now, furnishings are sorted and placed. Beds are made and clothes are put into closets. The dishes are unpacked, put away, and reshuffled as I try to find the best place for each thing. There is no carpet in the house, just rugs and I know where they go as I've been carrying them with me for a while.

I still wonder as I did when I was a kid if a friend will be nearby or faraway and when I will meet them and why does it take so long to make a new friend.

My husband teases me for my ability to be lost in a conversation and thus oblivious to my surroundings. I could care less about where I am or where I'm going when I am happily conversing. Lately, I've been finding my way about a small town realizing how much of it I haven't noticed over the years because I was usually happily conversing with him. Now he's not here to chauffeur me about on summer vacation.

I'm organizing the shelves, winnowing the keepsakes, and starring at this house. When I met my neighbor, I reached for his hand to shake it and said, "I'm going to be your neighbor for a long time. I'm not moving." He laughed and responded in kind.

I don't know what it's like to stay. I'm so tired of change and  movement and activity, I just want to stay in one place and get really bored for once. After a little low level boredom, I get ancy, which is a call for a change of pace, some new tunes, a different perspective.

I added some labels to the spice rack. I put more shelves into the pantry. The little neighborhood boys followed the Moose into the house in search of a treat. They gave their seven year old approvals, "It's pretty nice in here." They liked my homemade peach jello too. One of them asked, "How do you make the clear part of it?" I asked, "Have you ever made plain jello with gelatin?" I showed him the gelatin box. He shook his head no, but continued to eat the jello. He told me it was good and that he liked our trays. The Moose had shown his friends how to carry the tray from the table to the counter when they were finished.

I guess the house is set up well enough. I'm not sure it feels like home yet. I think my husband has to come back for that. I wondered a bit at the thought: What makes a home? After all of these years of setting things up and thinking when I get this picture up or unpack this last box, then it will be home, only I don't think so anymore. I put all of these things in place and it feels nice to have the house in order, but it is always lacking people. Just when I get all of the people sorted and known, then I usually have to move or they do. Except this time, but I can't quite comprehend that just yet.

I offered to drive to Virginia, without knowing how far away it was, to help a friend unpack. She asked me if I was kidding. I didn't reply. I was thinking, I don't care. I just want to be with someone who knows me, who I don't have to explain everything to, and who doesn't ask me a gazillion questions I don't care about. I would drive a long way to do that.

I don't relish setting up house as much as I relish having it ready so that when little boys come over and eat homemade peach jello on a wooden tray that they will enjoy the experience. They made it nice for me today.

What really matters is not where we are, but who-- what real beings- are with us.
Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb