Reading novels makes me feel like I am stuck in a really bad one sometimes, one that I might produce on my first stab at such. Since I’m winnowing my books, my reward for working towards packing is reading books I’m getting rid of before spiraling into sleep, instead of my normal perusal of the interwebs.
This poem popped out tonight, in between packing.
Riding the Four C’s
Blank space canvas lies canted to one side
Propped up by dreams, imagination, desires
Dusted with the debris of failed actions, nearsightedness
Gilded with golden edges of hope
I can paint any future I choose, but how to identify the palette?
Safer to only draw in black and white for now, maybe some gray too
Not to limit or set expectations too high
And keep that debris dust to a minimum
Leaps into unknowns require either slight insanity
Or really good working parachutes
Of which I might lean towards the first
But am always short of the second
If I close my eyes, I can be anything I’d like
Butterfly coming from sheltered chrysalis
Rakish explorer wearing a cloak made from ‘devil may care’ attitudinal thread
Or simply who I am, one willing to take risks – and fail
Canvas. Cloak. Chrysalis. Choice.
Like the grading of diamonds, should be found the same measure for dreams
I meet the four C’s; or is that the four seas?
Either way the marks I make are small, and each one begins with action.
The packing continues, hastened now by my formal announcement to the landlord. Already I am lingering fondly on this place like you do once you forsake anything – lover, automobile, home, employment.
But this place has been my own little private hell in many ways. It is in a beautiful spot, with an active night life, galleries, unique restaurants and ample opportunity for social interaction. I’ve been out in the area a grand total of nine times in almost three years – three times with my kids, three times on dates, and the rest with female friends. In other words, I haven’t availed myself of many of the things I chose the place for.
You really cannot combine debt pay off with a highly active social life. I became a work hermit(ess?) I go to work, and then I come home. When I got back into hiking, long put away after my husband’s death, I still do it alone; but at least it is getting me out of the house. I love it. But soon the enjoyable time for hiking here will disappear and heat stroke season will appear once again. Cycling I can do even in the heat due to the speed-induced breeze, but I’ve never repaired my ancient Raleigh, nor bought a new bike. Dating went by the wayside nearly two years ago, although I’ve engaged in conversations with people met online that I thought might click; they simply never did. Good friendships? Yes. But that is all. I just can’t figure out if I even want to date, even though it seems to be the answer several people think that I need. I simply don’t agree yet.
The memories of daily life compromise, shared sleeping arrangements, who gets to put their feet in whose lap during the movie, the dance of cooking and preparing a meal together, him shaving and me brushing my teeth – they seem so long ago as to be nearly foreign now; like someone else’s life. And they induce fear and memories along with pain, when I contemplate doing so again, quite frankly. I don’t even know if I’d make someone a good partner anymore, truth be told. I’ve gotten far more independent and driven, less tolerant of what I perceive as a huge load of BS that comes rolling off of most people, and it is still considered rude to roll your eyes and walk away as a grown-up. I guess one day this will resolve itself either because I’ll wake up as an old (insert animal companion here) lady, or I’ll meet someone that makes me want to be a good partner again. Maybe while trying to wrangle the workable by only two people awnings found on RV’s, while I am simply one person!
Now you begin to see why the moving from my walled compound into the circle of extroverted and helpful people typically found RV’ing is a little, well, it is causing me a bit of consternation honestly. As I prepare to leave here and go to who-knows-where-yet, all of the things that I do like about it rise up to taunt me; things that I will lose once I set foot into my turtle-home. Privacy, for one. Here I can turn out the lights, light twenty candles, put on my ear phones and dance like mad and no one’s the wiser. Kinda hard to do that in an RV without, well, actually rockin’ the house, so to speak. No suntanning out of view of others (safe for me AND the others, lol!) No stumbling outside with coffee when one awakes too early for work but with not enough time to go back to bed really, and lounge around in your robe half-awake. No visual break from the evidence of other people’s lives, for the most part.
Then there is the weather to consider. While the micro-haus has flooded time and again until the owner put in gutters, and the ceiling tiles like to jump around, it IS connected to the ground and has been here a long time, so unless it floats away in a hurricane tidal surge, it probably isn’t going to move much. Potentially not so for an RV. I finally went with a Class A instead of a 5th wheel simply due to that fact primarily (secondarily, I am currently not capable of towing a 5th wheel, and can’t imagine I’d ever grow comfortable with it either). The sheer weight of chassis and engine at least gives me some more solidity under me, and if it looks bad enough, I can drive away from a storm 🙂
Staying behind also is my patio and plants, and the little tadpole farm. While I can purchase a screen room and a mat to create a make-shift patio and that will do I think, I really don’t think I’ll be able to lug my pony palms raised from little stubs, the massive rose bush I’ve nurtured from stick to monster, and all of my flower pots, greens and herbs. Maybe I can tote some off to one of the girl’s houses for holding while I decide where to light, but I don’t anticipate staying in a place for very long initially, until I find one that suits me and is in good proximity to work and family, along with the outdoor amenities that I seek. I will be a short-term nomad for a while around the area, looking for that glass-slipper housing fit. I do have a line on some acreage in the country, but I really don’t feel like facing all of the initial challenges of the RV systems all alone in the boonies, hah! It would be nice to avail myself of other’s knowledge in the first stages of acclimation. That also means there might be witnesses to my stupidity! Ah well, there are always trade-offs.
I am fabulous at second, third and fourth guessing myself when it is already a done deal. I’ve been down this road before a time or two. I’ll live 🙂 In the meantime, I’ve a date with some boxes waiting to be filled.
But I leave you with this, a poem that has rushed around in my brain for some time, primarily this one line:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.