Sunday, August 31, 2008

There's a House

In the shade, at the end of a cul de sac. A family room, small kitchen with cherry cabinets. Three bedrooms. A sparkly white bathroom. It wraps itself around you as soon as you walk in the door. A back porch with a table beckons visions of friends with wine glasses, children playing under the carport in the rain.

I'm terrified of owning it.

I'm terrified of not owning it.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Basil Morning

I got up out of bed this morning before the sun was up, the alarm buzzing the BBC at me. In the darkness, with the morning chill, I could almost convince myself I was someplace else. Which sounded nice at the time. Lavender soap, minty toothpaste. A kiss to my sleeping boy and I was out the door. To write. To see a new friend. We got to the coffee shop, 6:15, she after working all night, me with sleep in my eyes still. Nothing opened until 7:00, so we sat on a bench and I confessed my preppy dark secrets (I was once in a sorority...). When the coffee shop opened, the early morning latte, the city waking up, I sighed. The farmer's market started to come alive.

I met Partner at a house I would love to own, and hope that somehow, by the grace of God, we're able to pull it off. Again, a smaller house than my master bedroom, but feels perfect. I see myself on the back porch, steaming mugs of coffee and fresh scones. Friends dropping by. Barbecues on the porch. Cricket playing b-ball with the neighbors basketball hoop, placed communally at the end of the cul-de-sac. I would walk to L's house, drink margaritas we make with the Snoopy Snow Cone Maker, and stumble home the four blocks. I'll go for long walks in the snow and come home, strip off my clothes and sidle into the sauna in the basement.

Back to the market, New Friend there again, and the scent of late summer produce. The basil like a tonic, a sharp tonic. Heirloom tomatoes. The promise of tomatillo salsa in the evening at wine night with more new friends. The sun just filling up the entire blue sky and babies, their round faces bright in the morning sun. No one is crabby yet. We are all fresh and new in the late August Michigan summer, refreshed by our cold sleep, the air subtly changing, seeping into our rooms, making us snuggle under the duvet, reach with our feet to loved ones. So even if we do wake up, wishing for a moment we were someplace else, the day promises to deliver us home with no regrets, making us want to never leave, to gather everyone around in a feast of sunshine and green leaves, basil scents filling the air.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

My Favorite Snob

When partner and I first started dating, we went up to my favorite bar where I was more than a regular. We cozied up to the bar, ordered some drinks, and proceeded to watch the action on the television. Every television in the place was on covering the event: the 2000 Gore/Bush election. After were felt assured that Gore was our next president (Whew, that was close) we started talking to Barbara, my favorite Irish bartender. I happened to mention that was "easygoing" and both Barbara and my new paramour, Partner, started laughing. Simultaneously and heartily. Partner looked at me and said, "Seriously? You think you are easygoing?" And Barbara said, "You are almost everything but easygoing." For a minute I thought I felt angry, which is, of course, not the reaction of an easygoing person. They reigned in their laughter and Barbara said, "You're easy to get along with, but not easygoing." In perhaps the most easygoing moment of my life, I had to see that they were both right.

It isn't easy when you are confronted with home truths about yourself that you would rather not acknowledge. I've been doing a little of that the past few days with several things in my life-- some very personal and some others I'm more willing to blog about, one of which is my not so hidden snobbery. I don't want to think I'm a snob, and mostly think I'm pretty down to earth. I grew up in an incredibly snobby part of the world and like to think I've rejected that part of my past, but alas, I don't think I have. I think, honestly, that part of my reluctance to admit I was going to attend nursing school was rooted in that. I don't remember anyone wanting to become a nurse. Doctors, yes. It was as if a nurse was somehow not good enough or couldn't hack being a doctor. (I could have hacked being a doctor and even thought about going during nursing school, but ultimately I'd like a life.) And see me even defend it here? As if being a nurse still isn't good enough? And finally I even like the idea of being a nurse.

We're moving. Probably sometime in September. I've long said to Partner I could live in a box, but in reality that just isn't true. Number one, it would be damn cold in the Michigan winter. Since I nixed the box, we're (in all likelihood) moving to family housing. This morning when I was talking to my friend Jeremy on the phone about this change of address, I noted that our new place will be smaller than my master suite. "God," he said chuckling, "You are such a snob." And I thought, oh shit, another 'easygoing' moment? Am I snob?

I recalled lamenting that I would have to pack up my Waterford and china and not use it for a year. Yeah. Because I use it so much now? I also recently told a new friend I wouldn't be able to live anywhere that didn't have a grocery store that sold chevre. This is true and I don't deny it, but surely this marks me as a snob? Or at least a cheese snob?

I'm a newcomer at a delightful tradition called "winenight" and I thought "I better have these ladies over soon before we move." Because they won't like me if I live in a small apartment rather than a show house?

I think I've talked about how my family in Ireland was fairly derisive of anyone they called "house proud." I've never wanted to be that person: the anal house proud mother. I thought I'd grow up and have a ramshackle old house that was delightfully cluttered by children's things and wet towels and several dogs. Toast crumbs on the floor (I have that now too). Balls and nets and sporting equipment scattered on the grass. Kids running in and out. Cooking for whomever wanted/needed it and offering glasses of wine to parents as they came to retrieve children, who of course, were reluctant to leave my easy going, carefree home.

I'm not sure I am this fully this person anymore. I do like clean and organized, but I am hoping that this year (and upcoming years) of living away from luxury home life will ground me back into the person I more see myself as. While I'll always believe in a good chevre and like my floors to be vacuumed, I'll have to just let other things go. It would help if you stopped by for a glass of wine. Just step over the mess.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Strong Enough

Mornings like this one remind me of being a young girl, getting out of bed and shivering into a swimsuit (and then another, and another), slipping on shorts and sweatshirt and padding downstairs. I don't remember anyone being awake, but in reality my dad was probably long gone to work. It's possible my mom and brothers were still asleep. I'd get my swim bag and sling it over my back and head out the door, flip flops flopping. My bike would be dewy and the air cold on my face. I'd wonder how on earth I was going to get in the pool. The morning stillness, the Michigan mid-July coolness before the heat, only broken by the tk-tk-tk-tk of my bike when I'd glide down a hill. At the swim club, I'd huddle underneath a blanket on the concrete because all the deck chairs would be wet with dew. Swim coaches wearing dark glasses would hustle us into the pool. "Warm-up!" "Get in the water" and then some big tall boys in speedos would be the first ones in, arching their bodies out over the water, throwing up their heads before going in. Eventually we'd all be there, in the cool pool that was still warmer than the air and steamed peacefully before we all churned it up, and the sun would come up higher into the air and glint into our eyes when we turned our heads to breathe. The smell of chlorine like coffee to me for many years of my life. Mornings spent waking up sprinting butterfly or ending with no breathers. How not breathing for one length, pushing it to one and a half, trying for two-- terrified and exhilarated. Practice ended and we'd linger in the diving well, playing Pom Pom, a game that I am surprised we all didn't drown playing. Even now I can remember running barefoot and flying out over the water before diving deep down into the 12 feet, swimming hard, pushing off the sloped bottom of the pool at angles in order to not be caught. The feeling of someone grabbing me and trying to pull me up to the surface. Slipping away like fish, kicking out of their grasp. At end it was always me or Danny Birney left at the end-- no one could catch us. And the knowledge I didn't know, but still knew, that I was strong enough, strong enough to do anything at all in the world.

Mornings like this I can sometimes grasp that feeling. And on mornings like this I want more than a grasp of it: I want it full again around me, like the feeling of water rushing over my head as I dive deep into water, knowing I can slide past anything, strong legs kicking.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat?

My last class of nursing school was cancelled today, so I am sitting on the couch, in my pajamas drinking hot tea, eating cold blueberry pancakes, and watching men's synchronized diving on CBC (with the bitchiest commentator ever!). Life could only be better if it were a little bit warmer and my feet weren't cold. Otherwise, I'm blissfully trying to forget that I have yet to write a paper, study for a final, and pack up a 3300 sq foot house. Everything seems achievable other than the packing part.

We've been looking at houses, endlessly-- on the multi-listing, Craigslist, the newspaper-- you name it, we've looked. We have found houses we have loved and missed. "Sorry. Already rented" We have contemplated buying a few and missed those as well. We just need to make a decision already. Any of the moves are going to be challenging. The house I wanted the most (and missed) was smaller than my current master suite. I'm a little daunted about how to minimize my life to such a degree, but excited about it too. Where ever it is that we move to, I'm going to be able to clean it so much faster and have far less shit to clean.

We're down to three choices at the current time. Each has pros and cons.

1. Family housing: Main pro of this? Cheap! Cheap! Obviously very family orientated and tons of kids for Cricket to play with. They even have a gas stove, and since I don't understand how anyone cooks on electric, the gas is definite plus. It's so close to a grocery store that we could walk there. It's also quite close to one of the hospitals I might apply too. I could ride my bike until the snow comes. It's also near parks. The cons? Well, it's family housing. We're going to be 36 and 40 respectively this fall, so in some ways it feels like a lot of backtracking. And you know, it's not exactly luxury housing.

2. Co-housing: Many of the same pros as family housing but without being family housing. Many kids, many eyes watching them. I love the idea of co-housing, but wonder if I'd be able to abide by all the rules. I love the idea of community meals, especially as we are embarking on another busy year. (Partner will be doing the same program I did.) Cons: The rules? And it's a still further out of "town" than we wanted to be. Our goal was to live on the bus line and be within walking distance of different amenities. I wanted to live in a larger neighborhood, and the co-housing we are looking at is located in the back of business park. There's walking, but not really what I envisioned.

3. Private house: They are out there. We found one yesterday that we both liked. The bedrooms were larger than postage stamps, which was refreshing. It was clean and well maintained. The current tenants complained about the landlord, which was worrying. Pros: Private house-- no shared walls! Felt roomy and cool. Had a full basement, which is definitely nice for storage. The other pro? It probably shared a backyard with a very good friend of mine. Cons: The dodgy landlord, for one. The tenants also said it was cold there in the winter, which sucks. It was also on a larger road, and I could hear the expressway. Electric stove.

I vacillate minute to minute-- wherever we live will ultimately be fine. We'll be together and that's what matters. I guess for now I should get off the couch and start packing.

Graduation on Friday! More blogging to come!