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Appreciating Home

We drove three days, though if we wanted to, we could scrunch it into two, but the likelihood of that is slim to zero. My husband made the journey in twenty-four hours, alternating stints with a buddy. That cured him of his highway heroism. Our date for driving from Florida to Michigan stretched from mid-May to early August this year. Good reasons exist for the delay—several delays—remodeling, the CCP virus plus other illness, and the crippling of the supply chain. Eagerness to get to a cooler climate rivaled eagerness to go from a frigid to a warmer one. Fans of extremes we are not.

Perhaps ninety-five percent of our truck’s cubic inches was loaded with boxes, a chair, a small side table, a quaint pedestal, a dismantled computer desk, sundry clothes and a cooler full of food because we never look forward to grocery shopping at the end of the journey. Through pounding, opaque sheets of rain, and heat that sizzled like the heat we left, we remained cheerful past reason. The remodeling project in Florida was at last approaching finished, after three years of unfortunate sidesteps and stumbling blocks (sometimes literally), and thankful we were.

Because we moved to our new Michigan voting address in late fall of 2021, we faced on our return a home in déshabillé. Conjure house as woman half-dressed, make-up smeared, with a hangover from an overmuchness of partying the night before. To wit: pictures stacked against walls, dozens of boxes of books, CDs and records (that’s vinyl to some of you), and a variety of other tasks inside and out.

But, oh, the joy!

Yes, for the first time in months after months, we can consider ourselves home. We are beyond the boxes of parts and sinks, et al, in the Florida cottage, so that when we return to it in Autumn, it will be welcoming in the way a home is, rather than intimidating like a big box store with everchanging stock on everchanging shelves. Here in downstate Michigan, we do have some art on the walls, a fully christened kitchen and happy plans for the day-to-day decisions yet to come. We sense our genetic stamps on both our places and feel blessed that we are able to take care of our bones and joints by chasing a more or less temperate climate the year round. When people ask us how we cope (“at your age”) with uprooting ourselves twice a year, and how we remember (“at your age”) what and where things are, we shrug our shoulders and laugh.

The truth is: we don’t always remember, but we mostly do, and that is good enough for the old folks we seem to have become in the eyes of our friends and the world. I do not, most of the time, feel old. Six months of pneumonia can override the rosy myth I entertain of internal eternal youth. The illness is behind me now, and with renewed energy and an abundance, if not a surfeit, of manageable projects, life is fresh. This state might be termed one of moderate excitement. Without frenzy, undue anxiety, and expectations that fail to match reality half the time, I enter into dynamic peace. This is worthy of unending gratitude.

On a journey, one sets or looks for signposts. Seeing none tends to make the traveler uneasy. Adventure, for most folks, I think, is made more satisfying with a map for back-up. Tooling down the road not taken—thank you, Mr. Frost—is dramatic enough without finding yourself at a dead end. Human beings make goofy choices, wise ones, and insane ones, too. Often, the only difference is the perspective held by folks who do not fathom making that particular choice. Provided we do not hurt anyone along the way, and that we respect what motivates another to act on his or her plan, impulse, or dream, are we not in an ethical safe zone? I say we are. In When the Circus Leaves Town, the final volume of my trilogy about two friends who seem destined to be together, one of the pair veers so widely off course that the behavior seems to belie all that went before. If we read closely, make a few inferences, allow for the suppleness of the human mind and spirit, perhaps we can realize with little or no pain that a foregone conclusion can morph into prison. If the change in direction made by one person were to have no effect whatsoever on his or her most significant others, then one must ask: “Was this a relationship built on an unending status quo?” Fear is the cement of such an agreement, and fear is brittle.

My husband and I have taken odd twists and turns in our independent lives and in our life together. We suspected early on there was no divine blueprint. Now, we wonder if perhaps there is. If so, it is one with a lot of elasticity. We can laugh about things that used to drive us to the wall, and we can let go more efficiently of behaviors that serve neither of us in kindness or good will. This, it seems, is why we can weather some uncertainties that make other people’s toes curl.

Do not, however, bring up the woeful state of our country and our world. For therein disease, dis-ease and heartache thrive. When our neocortices attune to the political plane, gratitude must beggar our attention. That is when to hew to that peace mentioned earlier, of a dynamic kind. So I will stand en pointe, a rose in my mouth, and my dear husband, knowing what’s good for him, will hold out his hand before I fall.


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