Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On Staying and Going, Part II

It was cool with periods of rain at the end of last week, after some very hot weather. Today it's back to 101 degrees (according to my trusty Edge thermometer), and I'm sitting in my living room looking out over the beautiful valley.

In my Roosevelt house, I knew a hundred varieties of rain sounds falling on the roof and on my plants and on the cover of the deck. My new house doesn't have gardens (yet), and doesn't have a deck cover, but it has three skylights. There are two big ones over the stairwell and a small one that is centered over the alcove between my bedroom closets and the master bathroom. Last week I was sitting still in my bedroom in the new house, eyes closed, trying not to look at the as-yet-unfinished unpacking. As I took in a deep breath, I heard the patter of rain, and realized it was the sound of raindrops hitting the skylight in my bedroom. And I took a deep breath, and smiled, and listened to the rain, and calmed my heart.

One of the most stressful and unavoidable realities of this move has been facing my crazy relationship with clothing, which is very closely related to my on-again/off-again love affair with my body. I learned to love my body (my round, plush, strong, not-size-6-and-never-really-wanted-to-be body) in my 20's, while riding my bike on Boise's Greenbelt and trails. That love has faltered, y'all.

This move, the beginning of a new epoch in my life, has me thinking about my relationships with the people I love. I have a friend who is a very complicated person. She was, for most of my 30's and 40's, my best friend. She is brilliant and funny and dark and sharp, and she is complicated and wrestles with depression, and she loves fiercely and fully. She is an amazing person. She is a person who has overcome more trauma and more crap than any five people should have to face. I love her, and I am proud of her fire, and I am thankful for our friendship. We've grown apart, are disconnected, and I reached out Sunday to try to reconnect. I miss her voice in my life. I miss her humor and her wit and her stubborn integrity. I just miss her. But missing her doesn't mean I can't be thankful for the gift of knowing her, of having watched her choose to overcome difficult things, for the many times she made me laugh, for her integrity, and the many times she loved me when I didn't feel lovable, for the many times she let me close enough to help her.

These are the thoughts distracting me from the task at hand, which is to unpack these freaking boxes. And that task is complicated by this boulder of truth in the middle of my path. I'm standing in front of my full closet, there are boxes of clothes still to unpack, and 60% of it (or more?) is more than a size smaller than I am now.

So there's the truth. Holding on to these clothes is not serving me. I look at these clothes and wonder--have I simply been waiting for my body to be a different body, over and over and over again? How many times in my life have I gained and lost and regained weight? How directly is my weight a reflection of my happiness, or my inner peace? Are these clothes my false front, my coat of armor, my "Glory Days" outfits? After spending my teens wishing I looked like anyone else, I remember savoring a soaring sense of love I had for my body in my 20's, and at various points of my life since. I remember being awash with love for what my body could do. Almost every time I rode my bike or hiked or led a class of ladies doing water aerobics. I loved my body when I walked miles or danced a choreography or shimmied. And yet I wonder--I loved how my body functioned and how it felt and how it looked when it was strong and smoothly solid and heavy with muscle and curve, but did I ever love my amazing body in the unconditional way it deserves? My body that has carried me through storms and dances and joy and sorrow, through love and loss and disappointments and victories? My weight since my 20's has gone up and down and up. At present, it is up again. Way up. But that's just a symptom. At present, I am not fit or strong or particularly healthy, and that is at the heart of what bothers me. At present, I do not love my body. At present, I'm having moments of powerful mourning for chapters of my life that are over.

And so. It's time to work on my fitness and strength and health in the body I have this very minute. To do that, I need to take a deep breath, hush all the negative voices in my life and in my head, and sally forth. To sally forth, I need to let go of all these not-serving-me pieces of clothing. My closet and allll these clothes I just moved to my new house in allllll these sizes I have been over the last 20+ years are shouting a message to me--love yourself more, love this stuff less. My heart is telling me to find my strength and my fitness in the body I'm living in now. Because all those times I've been waiting for my body to be the "right" size to be lovable are echoed or underlined or paralleled by all the times I've been waiting for my life to reach the state where I could relax, where I could be satisfied, where I could be IN the moment and not waiting for the moment.

Yep. So my sorting is brutal. I'm brutally sorting. Fits now and I love it? Into the closet or dresser. One size too small and I love it? Into a box to save. Everything else went into donate, consignment, or trash. Yes, I moved clothing that is too ratty to donate. And while I sort I am reminding myself that we only have today, so to be in the moment. And yes, these sentences are about these clothes and my life. Next I am going to pick up the threads of my health and the threads of my neglected or damaged friendships and the threads of the dozen things that make me laugh but have been neglected, and sally forth. I'm going to make new friendships, and drink more wine, wag more and bark less. 

Dang, I wish I had known how many times you have to relearn the same lessons. Adulting is not for wimps. Be kind to yourself! And as ever, my best to all who wander this way.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

On Staying, and Going - Part I

I've lived in the same house for 22 years.

The little house on Roosevelt was supposed to be my "starter" house twenty-two years ago. I chose it primarily based on the price, the views it had of a beautiful private golf course, and the "good bones" that I saw under the white paint, pale carpeting, cruddy landscaping, and very dated kitchen and bathrooms. It was a mid-century tract house, but it felt a little like home even on my first walk-through. I had no way of knowing how much life I'd lead while living there, the highs and lows and all of it.

And now I'm in a rented temporary space, hoping that the new house deal closes next week. There are so many memories to process, but not urgently. I'm thinking about the many decisions and choices and hurdles I faced while living in that little house. I went back to school and earned an MFA. I married my longtime partner, who became my second husband.  Kitties joined us.  Boulders were purchased.  I gardened my little fingers off, and rode my bike hundreds of miles and learned about plants that love our climate. We hosted parties and laughed with friends and colleagues (who became friends) and I became a bellydancer. I tried to have a baby, but was not successful. I explored options for adopting, but was interrupted by the experience of caring for my husband through first a chronic and then a terminal illness. I learned how to seek and find peace. I found my lioness spirit, found my center, and tried to resist the labels of others. I became a passionate advocate for hospice care and rediscovered my tenderness. I lost my second husband. We made the little house over, added even more windows. My life opened again. I met and married Eric.

My brother recently commented that when I speak of my home, or of the homes I was considering, I barely talked about the actual house. I talk gardens. It's true. I have a friend who fought cancer (and kicked ass) while working from home, pulling weeds and deadheading while on conference calls, holding on to threads of normalcy while permitting chemotherapy to kick cancer's ass. If you are a gardener, you probably know what my gardens meant to me. From the first moments living in the little house on Roosevelt, it was clear how desperately the yard and garden needed love. Making over the garden spaces took years. Decades. So much work, and so much love, and so many dollars, and a half-dozen reinventions. I rediscovered my love of dirt on that corner lot. I adore the spaces that I created, and coaxed, and updated, and coaxed some more. I poured love that needed an outlet into the dirt, and it paid dividends. I felt so at peace looking out my windows at beauty I'd envisioned and brought to life. In happy times, the gardens were a place to create order, to enjoy beauty. In the most difficult times, they gave everyone who looked at them a sense of peace. The fountain, the benches, the way the flowering vines created a sense of lushness and privacy, were all features of those gardens that were unique to Roosevelt St.

When you live a long time in a place, if you tend a garden, you learn to measure seasons by glancing at plants. You measure years in four parts. You shiver at bitter cold and send good thoughts to your gardens to stay strong, to survive. Spring is always and ever a miracle of rebirth and growth. You welcome the seasons and the blooms and the scents, and time passes through your fingers softly, one month and season of bloom melting into the next.

But it passes. You see? Time passes while we are making plans, and making choices, and equivocating. While our gardens are emerging and growing and blooming and going dormant. And rebirth can sometimes be a surprise, the fear that it may not come simply the breath of cynicism whispering darkly. Time passing is the constant. Feeling sad or anxious or calm or joyous about that constant is what we may choose.

The Roosevelt St. gardens were selected to be on the Botanical Garden's home garden tour in June, had the house not sold. I'm very proud of that fact. And those gardens will always be a part of my legacy, no matter whether the deed for the property has been recorded in a new name.

All of that said-you know what? Onward. The new house has beautiful views of the city and glimpses of the Owyhees, and almost zero garden beauty. It is close to Foothills trails and has room for all the things I like to do. It has cruddy lawn and too much of it, too few plants, soil that needs piles of compost, a couple of pines that need to go, some sad scrubby trees too close to the house, some junipers that attempted a coup of the neighbor's lot-line and of the Idaho Power services box. Yay. Time to roll up my sleeves. Opportunity to create new beauty.

Deep breaths. Blank slate. New chapter. Here we go.

My best, as ever, to all who happen this way. ~ plk