You would think a 55-year-old woman who pays close attention – like me – would learn things. And of course I do, I’m not being ridiculous about this, but there are some lessons I just have to learn again and again, and it annoys the crap out of me.
There are all kinds of lessons I learn over and over, but if you dumped them into categories, the biggest category by far would be the “Taking Care of Myself” category. Sheesh I am just not good at that. I’m better than I have ever been, but it was a very low bar. I dash out the door and never pause to think Take water. Grab a bag of nuts. Do I have kleenex? What might I need, a sweater? I might have brief periods of doing this and I always feel so proud, so grown up, but then I forget.
I think, Oh, it’ll be OK. I think, I’ll make it work.
The lesson I’ve just learned [again] is that I cannot be away from home for so long. I like to think of myself as flexible, as a person who can just go with it, who doesn’t need everything to be just-so, and those things are true but I also have a limit. And six weeks out of pocket pushed me to my limit. Actually, I think I got here at the start of four weeks (*note to self). I’m feeling very irritable, on edge, crying easily, feeling a bit frantic and tired of waiting.
Marc’s place, the apartment that used to be mine too, has never looked or felt like my home. There’s nothing about it that looks like me, that feels comfortable to me. Even when I lived here, I felt like a visitor for a whole lot of reasons. One small ongoing reason is that the bathroom cannot be really lived in, because of his patients. Since his office is here in the apartment, the bathroom has to be kept perfectly empty when they are here, so there was always this dance: every morning, carry out all the bathroom stuff; after the last patient leaves (sometimes 9:30pm), carry it all back. The weekends were glorious because we could just leave our stuff in the bathroom the whole time. (But in plastic bins, of course, because they’d have to be carried out on Monday.) It was a strange feeling to realize that I felt so much more at home at Sherlock & Peggy’s house — a place I’d visited just once — than I do here at Marc’s. That feels very sad to me.
Ordinarily I don’t have a suitcase, as I do this time. Ordinarily my travel bag is just my backpack holding my laptop, and my purse. I have toiletries and clothes here, in my one drawer and section of the closet. This trip, though, with clothes for two weeks in Greece, and clothes for the writers’ conference, and extra shoes and stuff, I’m just living out of the suitcase. And whatever I need, it seems I have to dig through the whole suitcase to find it. And the suitcase takes up precious floor space — precious because there is NONE — so it’s always in the way.
My sweet little home is clean (unlike Marc’s place, which hasn’t been cleaned since the last time I cleaned it, September 2012 don’t.get.me.started), and quiet. I have silence around me for thinking. I am uninterrupted. My morning routine is my own and beautiful, and important for me. My dinners are a pleasure to cook (in my clean little kitchen) and eat.
I have seen friends here in New York, precious friends I adore, and I miss them terribly when I don’t seem them for extended periods. So my “seeing friends” need has not been neglected, but my “seeing my Austin women” need has been starved.
So lessons learned, Queen:
- You need silence. And the little birds outside the window.
- You need your own little pleasures — morning routine, for example.
- You need a bit of space of your own.
- You need your home. Don’t be away from it for six weeks ever again except for dire circumstances.
I miss seeing Katie and Oliver, and Trey. I miss my bed. I miss my shower. I miss my kitchen, my morning coffee, the little birds. I miss my leather chair. I miss my sweet neighbors/friends, Nancy and Bob. I miss happy hours with girlfriends, lunches dinners walks whatever with them. I miss knowing how they are doing in a see-their-faces way. I miss turning out the lights and checking the locks and walking back to my bedroom. It turns out that I made myself the home I’ve longed for my whole life, the space where I can just be, and be comfortable and safe and myself. It’s past time to get back there.