Just like going to the Doctor for a check up is not intimate when compared with the touch of one who knows you, neither is having professional movers wrangle your stuff from one place to another. But to have people who know me trail their fingers through my things is something quite different for me. It is like granting access to the hidden parts of me.
I did not realize that I felt this way until a co-worker came by to assist with a walk-through of La Coquille. He was very helpful and set my mind at ease since he has great familiarity with RV systems and many years of experience. His knowledge was invaluable and gave me a far greater sense of comfort with the environment I’m migrating into, making things seems less foreign. While rooting around for switches and fuse boxes, he had to open my cupboards and drawers and he kept apologizing profusely. At first I was puzzled at his endless politeness, because most of my treasured daily things are not there yet. Things either out of season or little used but making the final cut for the move are what inhabit the cubby holes and recessed spaces and such right now. Most of me is not present, other than a large box of scented things, baskets, and a picture of a sunflower that has traveled far and wide with me for years. It is a small stamp of my presence.
Family has helped me move before, after my husband’s death; but that too, is different. My daughters have been a part of my life for years and are part of me, so their hands on my things were familiar and comforting, particularly at that point in my life. They represented strength and support at a time I was sorely in need of both. The gentle mockery of things I still held on to was a source of quiet laughter and shared history. Some things of mine went on to live another life at friend’s houses, and when I visit that, too, is comforting.
So while I may have some help toting my life out to the new home, this packing is done all by me. As my hand curls around a Mason jar filled with harvested Tabasco peppers or Dill, it reminds me of happier times and places, even if I have to rid myself of both the contents and the jars due to lack of space. It reminds me of my competence at gardening when I had good ground and the proper tools, and lays the groundwork for a return to that life in the hopefully not too distant future. It is I who determines what will go and what will stay, by some weird sort of emotional calculator that lives in my head. Most likely on that last day, there will be things lining the alleyway that I don’t wish to leave behind, but must. It has happened time and time again over the last twenty years now.
I was reading about a young woman who built and moved into her first tiny house at the early age of twenty-three. The photos showed a sparseness that I have to reach far back into my life to remember. Back ,back my memory goes, to my very first apartment or three – where each move was made solely in my car. Everything I owned would fit in there. I had no history, no emotional accumulation. When you first move out on your own you are busy divesting yourself of the remnants of minority and drawing on a blank slate, creating your own life. Most of your time is spent out and about with friends or at work, and ‘home’ is just a place to store a change a clothing and catch up on some much needed sleep. But now, ‘home’ has a different meaning. It is a place of comfort, of retreat, and where I spend the greatest part of my time. So somewhere between austere and bohemian indulgence is where I hope to find and create a happy medium 🙂
My birthday is approaching this weekend. Last year at this time I was also exploring something new – primitive camping and a new-to-me section of the Tennessee woods. While for a time La Coquille will not put me in the places where I long to be, it is a step on that path that calls to me. And while I may be far from the country right now, sometimes the country comes and finds me. On my dog walks lately I have been treated to a gently voiced ‘whinny’. I thought I knew the call, but since it has been many years since I heard it, I wasn’t absolutely certain. The last place I heard that regular voice of the wild was back in Virginia. One night this week though, it was confirmed. I have an Eastern Screech Owl in the neighborhood! They have been cutting back trees while developing a lot which possibly disturbed its nest I suppose. Last night it was glorious. Standing in the shadows under a big oak tree, I listened as it ran through its verbal repertoire. Then, I was permitted a glimpse of a successful hunt – Owl 1, Rodent 0. I am certain that anyone watching thought me slightly off kilter, as I smiled a huge smile and gave thanks to the Almighty. When my children were little, I called things like that ‘God smiles’. Nature will often reveal itself to us, if we are but still and aware. This swallowtail caterpillar is gnoshing on my patio.
As an aside, I’d like to highly recommend two very disparate books I’ve read recently for those of you that enjoy reading. The first book is The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux. It is a great book for those who like to read in small bytes. One of my favorite quotes from that book is by Freya Stark, from Riding to the Tigris:
“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.”
It is a book that beckons you to read other books, tossing one tempting morsels from their pages. Writers writing about other writers is usually boring to me, but this one is an exception. I now have an impossible list of books to try to find and read over the next year 🙂
The other book is more sobering. The Unsettling of America – Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry. Written in 1977, it is even more relevant today as we see things coming to fruition that Berry warns about. It is not a light read at all. Perhaps my favorite chapter so far is chapter five – Living in the Future: The “Modern” Agricultural Ideal. A lighter passage is found on page 56, but is heavy with meaning.
“By means of the machine metaphor we have eliminated any fear or awe or reverence or humility or delight or joy that might have restrained us in our use of the world. We have indeed learned to act as if our sovereignty were unlimited and as if our intelligence were equal to the universe. Our “success” is a catastrophic demonstration of our failure. The industrial Paradise is a fantasy in the minds of the privileged and the powerful: the reality is a shamble.” Berry is not reading for the faint of heart or the supporter of the status quo. He will surely make you think.
And so, as a thinking woman who needs to pack more stuff, I leave you with a new musical discovery from this week. It is an apt song for the technical generation, sung by a group that pulls from the history of our musical paths and infuses it with liveliness, a great smoky voiced lead singer and a little bit of glamour too. Perhaps you’ve not yet heard Lake Street Dive. Enjoy!
As a photographer and an unexpected single woman, I find the humor and irony in this song, as well as a touch of sadness.
And what one of us cannot identify with this power packed piece (and it’s nice to see a well-dressed band for a change). Oops, I think my ‘maturity’ is showing, hah!
So rest up today, because the weekend is coming!