This morning I’m thinking about domesticity, about keeping house. Going through the motions that are as familiar to me as my own skin: Untangling the vacuum cord and sweeping the power nozzle in clean lines, back and forth, across the rugs, emptying trash and recycling cans into the dumpster out back, wiping an old t-shirt across surfaces to pick up dust, placing the dishes strategically in the dishwasher, though I pine for hand washing most of the time. I could go on. There is something else at play though, in these tasks. Often it’s procrastination (what/when will I write?), and more often than even that, it’s restlessness/desire (for me, these two concepts are mostly intertwined in meaning). If I’m being honest, it’s also that old sticky habit of trying to control my surroundings, as if a clean, bright space can provide a balm for all the chaos and uncertainty in the world (in me). In this, too, is not just the keeping of house, but the making of it. At first, the artifice of placing recognizable things in the living space, and then the settling in. Learning the give in the floor in certain places. The click of the door handle as we come and go. The barking dog next door. The sprinkler system coming to life at 11 each night. I guess what I’m really thinking about this morning then, is patience. Knowing that as many times as I’ve “made” a home in my lifetime, this one might take longer. It might be more abstract for more months, or mostly internal from this point forward. I’m not prepared to fully adopt the cliché about home being in your heart or whatever, but I do know it’s a little more fluid these days.
It’s been nearly six years since I quit drinking. I always remember it as August 1, or thereabouts. I’m not terribly interested these days in accounts of life before/after, though even if I didn’t want to, I’d still keep track of these years. They almost count themselves. Drinking was home for me for a long time. The first sip could unravel staggering tension or despair, or just plain old discomfort. I can still taste that intimacy, despite how public the spectacle, the act. When I quit, I didn’t know what I would unearth, but I knew the intimacy of me and drinking was a false marriage, a shallow pool. The luster had worn off in a big way. As I began to step out of escapism and numbness into total feeling, I was buoyed by determinism (and yoga and diet and strength). It felt easy then. The truth is, it’s harder now, years later. I’m not talking about it being harder not to drink. I don’t care about drinking and I don’t crave it. But the new intimacy I’ve stepped into with myself is a gigantic thing. It bowls me over and yet I’m here, still. My new home means a space where I am awake to everything, negotiating and exuding nearly unbearable sensitivity, and a lot more wonder. There’s no escape here, and sometimes that sucks. The other night Tommy told me to be patient. Let some of this desire unfold, let it come when it will. He’s right. All of these things I crave now—writing a book, loving myself unconditionally, serving others, doing meaningful work, showing the people I love that I love them—are in me. Audre Lorde said: “I am my best work—a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.” She’s right, too. Cheers to that, and to coming back home.