All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~ Anatole France
There was a time in my life when I was quite satisfied to work the 4pm to 12 midnight shift, I would come home too keyed up to go to bed, and would paint until two in the morning, a practice which changed immediately upon giving birth. Over the years my sleep cycle has changed dramatically depending on where I am in my life, and this ongoing sleep disorder. Having a puppy is like having a baby, your life is no longer your own, and you have to embrace moments where it is your own, you have to embrace the life of being a dog owner, a life of some routine, and stability. I wouldn’t have it any other way right now.
I have a confession to make, I am slowly going crazy here in this place. And I need to come to some solution. And the realization comes to me at four in the morning. I wake because my little turtle bean is awake. I take her out and we both try to go back to sleep, but it swirls in my mind, like the spirals of an armed galaxy, the infinitesimal becomes huge, and I spin and churn and roil with my internal life.
I fantasize about screened in porches, hardwood floors where a puppy can have an accident and I simply scold and mop up. Not that she has many but when she does, I do not want to be the one scolded. I fantasize about the constant heat of a wood stove, and the ability to sleep in the cool rather than the constant noise and heat of a furnace. I fantasize about not hearing the constant tick of clocks. I fantasize about calling in sick and not being accused of faking it, or being weak, I fantasize about not bothering to shovel snow until I feel like getting dressed, it must be done it must be done it must be done it must be done.
I get up, and it is now nearly six. I break from the routine and am punished by a wet spot on the carpet, at least it is my carpet. I trudge through the garage, blinding my eyes to the mismatched detritus of thirty years of mild hoarding. Oriental carpets, on avocado and marigold striped carpets on South Park rugs on towels left on the floor after hot tub, two weeks ago, on top of Duck Dynasty men looking up my pant legs and sniffing my cold bare feet. I do not dislike this place, the woodstove, the long fenced yard, full of plant life, cars zooming by, a constant sound you become numb to. I listen in the quiet to TED Talks, scroll through Facebook and sometimes knit or read. This is the discovery. Four am, seven am. The dogs resting, puppy in her crate, where I have to put her for sanity. Food and walk to come shortly. But here it is. I sit in the only comfortable chair in the house, directly facing a 50 inch television, which sits like Darth Vader’s suit ready to envelop my life force. It looms over me like a gaping maw, ready to eat my brain like a mud pit full of zombies. Last night as I made relish with my food processor taking a quarter of the time to chop the cranberries and apples, the noise of the television screamed and tore and rent through the house. I was too loud, you see, for the violence of some movie to be heard. Not a real time movie that could not be paused, but a video, that could be. You have to understand, I have been watching TV since I was four years old. Oh. But do you understand that I have lived for years without one? No. You are always on that computer. Yes. Yes. I am. And I know I shouldn’t be. I have better things to do, but here is the problem, my only choice is to sit in this one comfortable chair in the house, dominated by a 50 inch television, the computer, is like a solace, it soothes me when a man in a toupee wearing no shirt in a junk yard yammers on about nothing and when a man with no teeth gives a hillbilly holler as he throws a turkey in front of the camera and then pretends there is that bugger now and pretends to catch it. Live Action. Did you notice how at my old house, the one you called cold and dark, the TV was in one room but the dining room and the comfortable furniture was in another? Separate from the action of the home. Do you notice how my adoring friends stand awkward and uncomfortable in the cluttered corners, not sure where to put their bodies, or their hands. All intellectual conversation stops as we stare numbly at rednecks and jackasses and fast food commercials.
I ask my therapist, why do I still dream of this other thing that I really don’t want and was relieved to see it go? What is it that you miss? Ah.
I watch the dynamic of two women clamoring for his love, his attention and for the right to provide and care for him. I watch as one man sinks in on himself, chastised for being lazy, criticized for trying to start an intellectual conversation at the breakfast table, called a clumsy inadequate oaf for not putting something together right, or breaking something else, criticized for not doing enough to help. Please, do not misunderstand he is an utter jackass, uses racial slurs, and intentionally stirs up hostile debate; I suddenly see that in this triangle I am him, the role I will play in this triangle is that of him. Who will care for me? Morgan and I go into the weather to attend an intellectual event together, and she goes first to the back seat and tells me to get in the car as she takes out the brush and sweeps snow off my windows. I sit still and quiet thinking, he has done this for me only once in now almost three years. Who will care for me? I will.
It isn’t him though. He is who he is, and I know that ultimately I am not particularly good at male female relationships. I love hiking with him, canoeing with him, fishing with him, even watching shows and sci-fi movies with him, I love teasing him and being teased (the gentle times) by him, I love so much about him, but can we not live apart? Where I have my peaceful home, where it is my home, and he has his loud and cluttered and walled in home, protected by his things and the comfort of two women vying for the chance to serve him. They want to come in and care for him, they want him to stay with them while he recovers from surgery, they want to make him lunch, oh but they don’t want to offend. They want to rush to the store to buy him a new winter coat when four more hang in the closet in the basement, they want to give him money, they want to make his favorite foods, they want to weed his garden. Can you ask them not to dig up my comfrey roots and tansy? No they paid for this house, they have more say than you. I want to control my home and environment, I don’t want them in my bedroom leaving the door open for a cat to piss in, I want to be free from being called a slob, from the judgmental eye on my yard and my unmade bed and the dishes left in the sink. It is awesome to have someone say, I am running to the store do you need anything, to say you have the flu? Do you need anything? To say, you are hurt can I drive you to the hospital? But this? This has never been my house, and it never will be.
Three hours of quiet. Soon the bull will wake and another day in the china shop will begin. I have much to be thankful for. So much.
Thank you for listening to the voice that kept me awake at four in the morning.