Home ~ What Is

There are many, many versions of “what is home”.  It is where you hang your hat; where your heart is; where your dog is; where they have to take you in (thank you Robert Frost). And so on and so forth.  If you were to google quotes for “home”, I am sure there would be a whole lot of them.  But what is it really, beyond the trite cliches; whatever seed of truth they may have.

[tweetshare tweet=”I recently had a taste of what a truly empty nest would be” username=”TrienahM”]

I recently had a taste of what a truly empty nest would be when my college student son, who is getting ready to leave home for good, was gone for about ten days.  The background here is that I separated/divorced about two and a half years ago, after roughly twenty seven years.  At that time my son had come back home to finish college after having left for two or so years.  His presence was and has been a blessing as I have travelled through this weird and unexpected transition.  But when he was gone for those ten days, the emptiness of my home struck me, hard.

As I worked through the feelings I realized that home, for a long time was the place I created for others.  Now mind you I am a nestbuilder, having lived almost nowhere for more than five years in my entire life, but that is an analysis for another time.  For twenty five years give or take, home is the place I created for my son, for my husband, for a family.  Now the son is leaving (and taking the dog), the husband is gone.  So home has to be what I create for myself.

Home is about habits and routines.  And for just me, the habits and routines are very different than they were for family.  I eat at different times, I sleep at different times, I do laundry at different times, I grocery shop at different times.  My life is no longer circumscribed by family life, only by work and my own wants and needs.

But that realization wasn’t immediate.  What was immediate was the awful feeling of coming home, for the first time in almost 30 years, to a dark and empty house.  No other car in the drive, the outside lights not on to welcome me home, no dog wagging a stump so happy to see me, no other living soul.  The house had a very different feel despite the fact that I have lived here longer than anywhere ever and it is very familiar.  I cried.  Not sure why or for what.  And each day it got a little easier, a little more “normal”.  I could park in the middle of the driveway, not worrying about leaving space.  I remembered to put out the trash.  I grocery shopped for just me.  And each day it got a little easier.

My son is back, but working on his own transition and will soon be gone.  I am thankful for the crazy cats, they still greet me and are happy to see me, mostly.  But I know when he goes this time, it will be a little easier, a little more familiar, a little more “normal”.  I know that home, now, is what I create for myself, finally.

Memory and Mending

I sat in my humid garage opening boxes packed years ago.  A collection of mugs primarily assembled by my ex husband.  27 years of marriage, 30 years of history.  I unwrapped each cup, acquired either at an event or gifted to him from a friend’s attendance at an event, wiped it clean, tossed the aging, crinkled newspaper and wrote it’s provenance on a fresh box.

They are being donated to an organization that can auction them to good use.  As I read them off, I was flooded with memory like the scent in Proust’s famous passage, the feel of each cup and the inscription of where it came from brought me to many moments in my life.  The mug from the event in Stamford, Connecticut where my then 11 month old came down with pneumonia and we had to stay over in a hospital with no PICU, shuttling in shifts to sleep with him in the hospital room.  The mug from the event in Martha’s Vineyard where a late spring ensured that we would sleep with our coats on and meet the wonderful Dj who later played music for our wedding.  The mug from the event at which I was stalked by my not yet husband.  The event at which everyone wanted to hold our brand new adopted baby son.   The first event with some special women still, or again, in my life.

Mother’s day weekend, and I spent it on a garden stool in my steamy garage re wrapping my history in clean packing paper.  And I spent most of the weekend crying, descending back into regret.  The way in which my marriage ended broke something in me, and although I have come a long way, I am not entirely mended yet.  Being willing to let go of these material things that evoke so much memory and regret is a big step in mending the cracks; in me – the broken cups went to the trash.

And to end on a happy note, my son made Mother’s Day special and brilliant  and full of the present.

Singularity ~ Pun Intended

So over the last year and half or so, I have been doing and going and showing up at all manner of things by myself.  Having ended a marriage of over 25 years, I am re-learning the joys of doing things “single”.   People often speak of the joys of partnerhood, and I will come back to that later, but rarely do you hear people speak of the joys of singlehood.  So here goes.

I find that I am much more able to make space in my busy life for solitary prayer and for meditation practices.  Now mind you I don’t often find a 30 minute block of time, but I do find short spaces for meditation and I feel much more centered and at peace for those short spaces.  By solitary prayer I mean prayer that is not in a ritual or congregational setting.  There is nobody here to think I am weird if I just sit up in bed, close my eyes and talk to G-d.  Who, by the way, does not mind if I drink coffee during these prayer conversations.

I do not have to ask what anyone else wants to watch on tv, what movies they like or what kind of music to see.  I happily have gone to symphony, american folk, several types of jazz, blues, musical theatre and gospel without needing to find out if any of those are acceptable to a partner.  It is not easy to find folks with broadly eclectic tastes to share these things with.

I do not have to explain that I rehearse twice or three times a week because music is everything, with books, teaching and live performances close behind.  I am free to stand out on my front porch and contemplate the moon and stars or sit out on my lanai and watch the raccoons and listen to the frogs whenever the mood strikes me.  There is nobody to think I am crazy.

But then, there is that moment when you turn to the partner who is not there to say “look at that beautiful moon” or “listen to that frog choir”.  There is nobody to bring the coffee in bed.  There is nobody to talk about the music, and the joy it brings, with.  There is nobody to put your feet on while you watch a movie at home.

[tweetshare tweet=”I have learned, this past 30 months or so, how singular I am and that I can be joyful alone, and that I am not alone.  I have amazing people in my life.  But I have also come to understand that singularity makes you difficult in ways that are hard to explain.  And so, I am not only singular, I am single and, for the moment good with it.” username=”@trienahm”]

Becoming ~ Redux

It is a year on down the line and some things are clearer and some things not so much…..

I have had many small adventures, theatre, symphony and other cherished music.  Live performance is critical to my happiness.  I have spent much time with loved female friends and have talked to the dog and the cat at great length.  I have watched my son becoming, in a very real sense, the man he will always be while being intensely grateful he is my child.  His help and support this past year has made my life manageable as I swing madly from fierce to afraid and learn how to do things I have never had to do.

I have learned to clean the pool, I have learned to dispose of dead animal cat gifts, I have learned I cannot change the light bulbs in the kitchen or the air conditioning filter.  But I have found people to help me with what I cannot do and I accept that there is much I have to do.  All this has shifted my perspective about what my life will look like in the future, what I want to deal with and what I don’t or won’t.  BAM, everything changes.

I have understood love and I have not dated.  I have taught children about God and in the process found my faith stronger. I have begun a crooked walk towards possible retirement and the financial realities that I will face.  I have made music with people I love and in that creativity have found immense joy.

How odd to think that one morning I will wake up for the first time in about fifty years with no need to rise and go to someone else’s employ.  Probably the most exciting and the scariest thing I have ever contemplated.  If I can stay in the idea that this is a great opportunity and that wondrous things still await me at this late time in my life, it will be amazing.  And so I work on creating options, possible paths for myself, knowing that at any moment, BAM, a totally different path may appear.  Stay in the moment but plan….faith is the antidote to fear.

On Becoming September 2016

It is an odd thing, this life.  Just when you think things are settled and you feel as if you have a sense of knowing where it is all going, BAM it changes.  And even stranger, just when you feel as if you know who you are, BAM, you are shedding your behaviors, people and places like a snake shedding its skin.

I think being part of a couple gives you this odd sense of safety, of invisibility and of belonging.  No matter how difficult your relationship may be, you are not “single” in a world of doubles.  So what to do? Shed my “double” skin and set about discovering where I am in the world, in my life.

I was listening to public radio and heard a story about an amazing exhibit of Matisse and his various contemporaries, essentially his career, being brought to the art museum in Oklahoma City from Paris.  Without stopping to think about how odd that might sound, I made a reservation to go to Oklahoma City for the weekend.  I am, after all, single.  My son is a grown, sort of, man.  I can do whatever I want and could afford to do it.

And before I could get too scared, I went.  And I went all over, did many things, ate, listened to music, visited art, gardens and memorials, talked to strangers and had a great time.  People are curious about you when you go places by yourself, especially as a woman of a certain age, and that makes it easy to talk.

I have a most dear friend who, when I say I am afraid to do something, or can’t do something, says “remember who you are, you can do anything”.  What a wonderful thing to be reminded with love and admiration.   So it isn’t really about “becoming” it’s about “getting back” to the self you lost, suppressed, ignored, forgot about.  It is about doing the things you love, the things that bring you joy; it’s about rediscovering those things and the pleasure they bring.  Or as my brothers would say, it’s about getting your groove back.