Mini Opus

I’m not good at writing short blog posts. Writing a post takes me ages, both to digest and clarify what I want to say, and then smoothing out the words to say it with. Worth the effort, but an effort nonetheless, like any good-for-you undertaking. And so there is a lot of procrastination, hence the once or twice a month posting. Dave says I need to get better at writing short updates, that every post needn’t be a philosophical magnum opus and like so many other things, he is, of course, right. When I click on to the various blogs I read, I am always disappointed when the same post loads day after day without an update. I want to know what’s going on!

So this is just a short one to say, we moved into our new house two weeks ago, and it’s stressing me out. There is so much to do (which we knew when we bought the place), and all of a sudden it’s kind of hanging heavy on my shoulders. It turns out owning your own pile of property is a totally different bag than renting someone else’s pile. When you rent, there’s a lot of stuff you just shrug off. Things aren’t how you would want them to be, but . . . it’s not your place. So whatever. You live with it. You laugh at things like the bathroom in an old apartment of ours that was completely tiled in blue: floor, walls and ceiling (my mother, on seeing it the first time: “Oh, it’s like a crematorium!”), and the blue toilet with a cigarette burn on the lid of the tank, whose push-button flush mechanism you had to hold down for what felt like forever for it to flush properly. For me, renting involved both the freedom to not care about imperfection and the countering undercurrent of thought that one day, when we have our own place, everything WILL be perfect, because it will be ours.

So now, of course, I am experiencing the full heaviness of material possession. I have taken on this house, and everything that is wrong with it. Because there are no excuses now for things not being right, except, of course, not having the unlimited pots of money necessary to make them right. I know I need to let go, to combine the lightness of renting — of knowing that, really, our stay in this house is also a temporary sojourn, no matter how many years it lasts — with the satisfaction of fixing things up, however slowly that progresses.

My mother wrote me an email on our moving day on this very subject, before I was even aware of this dilemma myself, and as usual, hit the nail on the head:

Not to be too Mommyish, not to mention philosophical — I guess this is how we get so attached, we put our heart and soul to something (houses, children, work) and then it is o so hard to let go (houses, children, work). I do not envy you, but I rejoice that you are having the chance to really enjoy the opportunity, with or without detachment!

So I’m working on it, Mom, both the enjoyment and the detachment.

(We have this postcard on our fridge, and whenever I get overwhelmed with the piles of boxes, and our shabby furniture sitting sheepishly in the new rooms, it makes me feel calm.)