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

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