I started the day out in a big fit of alligator tears over (once again) being stranded at home without a car. I planned on dropping V. off at work, running errands, and then finding a coffee shop to hole up in and write. I was also going to go on my "artist's date"--which is, really, the only thing I've been looking forward to all week. The forecast is predicting another 16" of snow in the next couple of days and since it's busy-rush-hour-freeway-traffic all the way to where V. works and back, it would be stupid for me to be driving back and forth to drop him off and pick him up just so that I can run around doing things that aren't absolutely necessary. So I was a bit of a cry baby. But after 7 months of this, do you blame me? I think we need another car. Seriously.
This morning I was feeling trapped because my world gets too small when it is limited between home and work, work and home. Maybe it's my lingering gypsy ways, but I have a tendency towards claustrophobia when things get redundant. And if it's going to snow, then fine. But right now it is a beautiful sunny day. The 30+ degree temperatures feel like spring and staying at home was most certainly going to drive me crazy. Around noon I finally said fuck it, put on my big clunky boots, and tromped my way through the snow and slush and extravagant-sized puddles to the neighborhood coffee shop--where I'm sitting now. And well...I admit it: this place makes me feel a little swollen with pride to be a part of this neighborhood.
It's been a while since I've actually walked anywhere without Anu and so I decided to treat my excursion with a bit of love. I felt a sense of purposelessness walking without wolfie, but I also found myself taking in my surroundings in a different way. Rather than watching squirrels or birds or snowbanks like I usually do with Anu, I found myself looking at houses and their relation to the sun. I exchanged smiles with passing cars, recognizing this person and that person, and exchanged hellos with quite a few of them. In the process I realized just how much I've become a part of this place and it made me wonder: How and when did that happen?
In the next few days I'll be starting work again at the garden shop (next door to this coffee shop). Technically, this neighborhood could be considered a village--but, living in the United States, what constitutes a village anyway?? A market, a coffee shop, a flower shop, a gas station, a (very liberal minded) church, a hair salon, a handful of residents, an elementary school, and a pizza joint--there you have it: a village.
Of course, working in the "village center" helps with getting to know people. Often times I crave to be anonymous (this might be the result of growing up in a small town)--but, more often, I find that I crave a sense of place. Admit it: it's good to feel like you belong.
And so, even though I have no desire to work in a garden shop forever (oh god, definitely not!), what it offers me at this point in my life is an incredible sense of belonging. These days, I feel a need for that. I'm not sure why. But I do.
I'm 32 years old and even though my traveler's soul requires a frequent change in scenery, it's beginning to feel like I've been searching for my "place" in the world ever since selling my house out in the country a couple years ago (even if subconsciously). Wait a minute...how did I end up on this thought? I guess this random thinking is just one of the many dangers of feeling "emotional." After an incredible conversation about loss (and many other things!) with a good friend, I came across a poem by Mary Oliver that caused another round of alligator tears.
The bumble bees
know where their home is.
They have memorized
every stalk and leaf
of the field.
They fall from the air at
the right place,
under the soft grasses,
Where will we go
with our table and chairs,
our nine thousand books
our TV, PC, VCR,
who is sixteen years old?
Where will we put down
our dishes and our blue carpets,
where will we put up
We never saw
such a beautiful house,
though it dipped toward the sea,
though it shook and creaked,
though it said to the rain: come in!
and had a ghost--
at night she rattled the teacups
with her narrow hands,
then left the cupboard open--
and once she slipped--or maybe it wasn't a slip--
and called to our cat, who ran to the empty room.
We only smiled.
O, what is money?
O, never in our lives have we thought
O, we have only a little money.
O, now in our sleep
we dream of finding money.
But someone else
already has money.
Money, money, money.
can sign the papers,
can turn the key.
O dark, O heave, O mossy money.
how the rich
hesitate--up go the
sloping rooflines, out goes the
garden, down goes the crooked,
green tree, out goes the
old sink, and the little windows, and
there you have it--a house
like any other--and there goes
the ghost, and then another, they glide over
the water, away, waving and waving
their fog-colored hands.
Don't tell us
how to love, don't tell us
how to grieve for, or how loss
shouldn't sit down like a gray
bundle of dust in the deepest
pockets of our energy, don't laugh at our belief
that money isn't
everything, don't tell us
how to behave in
anger, in longing, in loss, in home-
sickness, don't tell us,
Goodbye, sweet and beautiful house,
we shouted, and it shouted back,
goodbye to you, and lifted itself
down from the town, and set off
like a packet of clouds across
the harbor's blue ring,
the tossing bell, the sandy point--and turned
into the keep of the wind
where it floats still--
where it plunges and rises still
on the black and dreamy sea.
(by Mary Oliver from What Do We Know, 2002)
In the end, it turns out that I'm really starting to feel a sense of "home" here. And maybe, just maybe, it worked out ok that I didn't have the car today. I mean, it caused me to get frustrated enough to walk the 6 blocks from my house to here...and to be surrounded by good people in a packed-full coffee shop... and to maybe even see things in a different way.