The thing itself

Bad weeks:  We’ve all had them.

I got to have one last week.

The particulars don’t really matter. Some were kind of big, but most were small. It was the cumulative effect, the snowballing nature of the week that, by Friday, had flattened me.

This (sorta) Old Life:  living room

All I wanted was a day at home.

On Thursday I told myself I just had to get to Saturday morning, when I could put on some music, make a cup of tea, settle into our couch that is old and frumpy but very, very comfortable.

This (sorta) Old Life: living room

Then, I knew, I could sit in the light that fills the room, surrounded by the things we’ve collected that make me feel good–books, art, warm colors, soft pillows, living plants–doing work that makes me feel good.

This (sorta) Old Life:  living room

I would feel better, I knew, even if some of the paintings aren’t hung and some of the plants have seen better days and there’s some clutter lying around. Because, those things are still home, and better always comes.

Everything passes.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Rita

And, that’s just how it went.

I spent that morning on that couch working on a piece of writing for a new project that I’m very excited about.

I sipped warm tea.

Occasionally I looked up and thought about how much I love our home, about what a haven it has become for me.

That time, in this place we’ve created and love, was the balm I’ve come to trust it will be.

This (sorta) Old Life:  entry flowers

With dogs on my lap and light at my back and words coming through my fingers I felt the trials of the week lifting.

I felt my being settle down.

I was home.

lazy daisy white chair

And then, right before I was about to shift into a different part of the day, to rise from the couch and put some things in order—send errant shoes back to their rooms, collect stray mugs, unload the dishwasher, throw a load of laundry in the wash—I checked Facebook, where I found this message:

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 10.57.08 AM

This message, it was from my first real love. At one point, marriage to each other was something we felt sure was in each of our Somedays. But we were very young, and quite damaged, both of us, and somehow, some self-preserving part of me knew it would never work and I blew things up and walked away from the rubble.

This (sorta) Old Life: young rita

A photo taken the night we met. Yes: very young.

Years have gone by—quite a few of them now, nearly 30. For most of them, I harbored quite a bit of anger and loathing, for both him and my younger self. Again, the particulars don’t really matter.  Anger and regret and self-hate are, sadly, nearly universal.

When he contacted me a few years ago, it was a great gift. He gave me a chance to revise my view of him, and through that, of myself and my past. Seeing the life he’d built, with a lovely wife and their two young daughters, helped me see that I hadn’t necessarily been wrong, all those years ago, to love him. I could see that the part I’d loved had finally won the battle for his life, was manifest now in family and good work and many friends. I could accept that, perhaps, the good part of him had seen and loved a good part of me. That there was, indeed, a good part of each of us at our core, even during years we were often at our worst.

And so I sat on the couch, in the comfort of the home I’ve created, and tried to take his words in. My week, with its trials, felt trivial. The post I’d been planning to share today—on planting a garden—felt trivial.

This (sorta) Old Life:  rita gardening

I sat there, feeling punched in the gut, trying to simply absorb what it means, all of it.

And then I got up, and started moving. Because, still, there were the shoes and the mugs and the dishes. And rugs to vacuum and toilets to scrub and laundry to wash.

This (sorta) Old Life:  shoes

I was glad to have them, those things that needed doing with my hands, chores to take me (mostly) out of my head.

This (sorta) Old Life:  kitchen mess

In the years since I did not marry my first love, there have been innumerable dirty dishes and loads of laundry and things bought and used and discarded and put away.

This (sorta) Old Life:  library

Sometimes, when I am doing laundry, I feel overwhelmed by the Sisyphean nature of it:

The laundry will never be done.

It will never be done until I am done, something I realized only in the last year. (I am slow to know many things.) One day last fall, sorting yet another load of white socks (the Achilles heal of laundry for me), it occurred to me that if there comes a time when I am living but not doing laundry, it will mean that the life I’m living now is, in some essential way, done.

This (sorta) Old Life:  laundry

I thought about that on Saturday, as I sorted through the hamper of soiled clothing, placing the dark items in the machine.

I thought about that as I poured in the soap, spun the knob, pushed the button–and I have never been so grateful for my son’s smelly t-shirts, for the clunk of the washer shifting into its first cycle, for the heavy weight, later, of wet clothing in my hands as I moved it to the dryer.

This (sorta) Old Life:  laundry

We like to say here that how we do home is how we do life, but this weekend I saw that it goes further than that. Home is not metaphor for life. It is the thing itself.

This (sorta) Old Life:  plant

Doing home is doing life.  It’s not just shelter from the slings and arrows of the bad days (or weeks or months or years). It’s not simply a haven, a place to retreat and rest.

For me, this weekend, the comfort was not so much in the shelter, but more in the creating of it, the maintaining of it, the living of it with the others who share it with me.

This (sorta) Old Life:  daisy rocky kitchen

Wherever you are, whatever kind of day or week you’re having, I hope you might hold onto these truths and that they will be more comfort than curse:

Our homes, our selves will never be done until we are.

This (sorta) Old Life: garden

And, everything passes.

This (sorta) Old Life:  flowers

If life were easy, we’d all have nothing but good weeks.

Hoping that this week, you can accept whatever is passing through your home with gratitude and peace.