Years ago, I was driving with My Ex, The Man I Left Behind, up that beautiful stretch of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn where you have the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (in all their glory) on one side of you and Prospect Park (in all it's glory) on the other side of you.
My Ex, The Man I Left Behind, was planning out our future. "So while you're in the seminary, I'll continue to work. When you're ordained, there will be a few years where you're an assistant priest before you get your own church. Hopefully you'll find a parish here in New York City, or maybe in New Mexico. I can probably find a teaching job without too much difficulty. Then, when you get your own parish as rector, I can stop working and devote myself fulltime to making art. If we save our money, you'll be able to retire from being a fulltime rector sometime after you're 55 but before you're 60, and we can retire somewhere with you taking on an assistantship somewhere..."
And about that point, I nearly drove off the road.
My heart was pounding in my chest. I felt light-headed. I couldn't breathe.
Oh. My. God.
He was right.
There it was. The rest of my life, laid out before me. It probably would unfold just as he said.
Scared the bejeezus out of me, being able to imagine, with a high degree of probability where I'd be and what I'd be doing next year, and five years from now, and ten years from now.
And oh yeah. That would all involve being in a relationship with a guy who yelled at me for something or other I did or didn't do just about every day.
And that was part of the reason that I fled.
But now, possibly for the first time ever, I'm experiencing an unknown future in a different way.
I've been having these... these... these ideas.
Along the lines of, "Well gosh, after I get the house fixed up so nice, it would be crazy to just go and leave it. Why not postpone putting it on the market for a year, stay here."
Which, I have to admit, is pretty reasonable.
But there's that irrational element that stops me from embracing that wholeheartedly.
I didn't realize it until the other night. Just as I was getting into bed, I realized that I had to piss. The bathroom I currently use is situated out in the front of the house, off the livingroom. (That's not the bathroom that I'm gonna make all fabulous and such, that's going to be made into just a simple powder room.) So that meant down the hall, through the livingroom, and into the bathroom. The house was dark, so I walked slowly, finding my way with my tentative footsteps. In the livingroom, I realized that I was charting a course to avoid colliding with the recliners. As in, the two La-Z-Boys that I had tossed into the dumpster in the driveway and that were by now off in some landfill somewhere.
That nighttime experience, finding my way through a house that was no more, clinging to what I knew and what was familiar, unnerved me.
Egad. Going back to school for Construction Management! Finding a place to live with a dog! And in New York City, a place that changes you when you live there. Am I grounded enough to take that on? Would I become distracted by all that there is to distract me there? And after NYC, what? Where? With whom? How?
And a lot is overwhelming these days.
Or at the very least, now and then I feel pretty whelmed.
The other day I had this landscape architect/horticulturist guy out to look the place over and make some suggestions for improvement and listen to mine.
I was feeling pretty whelmed when he left. "Buying plants is pretty addictive," he explained. "In fact, that's what keeps me in business," he added smiling. "You come to me, and you buy a bunch of plants, and you go home and plant them, and they look great. And it's very satisfying. And a natural reaction is to go out and buy more. But you don't realize that maintaining plants takes a lot of work. They all have to be watered and looked after. In ten years, left untended, you wouldn't be able to see your house. It would all be overgrown. So be careful of trying to make it look better by buying plants."
What I should focus on was to get a dumptruck full of topsoil and put it in the front lawn to get rid of the low spots that keep puddles a week after we get an inch of rain. ("Nobody wants to buy a house where you have to wait a week after it rains to mow the lawn.) And focus on the trees, as in pruning off all the branches up to the crown, opening up the space, and letting people know that the property has been cared for and tended to.
And he went on. Move this garden there. Transplant those rose of sharon to over there by the house. Plow this garden under since it's all naturalized and turn it into lawn.
And on and on.
When he arrived, I was proud of the perennials and annuals I had put in over the past couple of weeks. Gosh, I thought to myself, the place is starting to look pretty good! I think we've got that Curb Appeal Mojo going on! When he left, I just saw all the work that had to be done, so much work that had to be done, and a big brown pile of topsoil in the front yard for two months until grass grew there. And all the money that was going to take.
So yeah, I was whelmed.
Till I sat down and thought about it. Broke it down. Made a list of things I could do right away and things that could wait and we'll see how it goes.
And I'm gonna rein in my buying and planting.
Should I stay or should I go now? Asked the Clash.
Here's what I'm gonna do.
For ten days in June, I'm heading to Southern California. On the Second, I fly into San Diego. I'll stay a few days with Alpha and meet his new Significant Other, then on the 5th or so, I head up to LA to attend this way cool conference that Dwell Magazine is hosting. They have house tours! (And if anyone has any suggestions of somewhere nice to stay on the West Side, please post a comment!) Then, I head to Palm Springs to spend some searing hot days in the desert, soaking up the sun and worshipping Frei houses and hanging at that cruisy coffee place.
So here's my fantasy of what might go down during this trip. I'll here about a job, or a place to live, or something, and I'll be inspired to come back here, pack up my stuff, plop a For Sale sign out in the yard, and head off to start my new life in Southern California. All I think I need is one small dim star to hitch my wagon to.
But we'll see.