Monday, August 29, 2005My Blue Heaven
You'll see a smilin' face, a fireplace, a cozy room
Little nest that nestles where the roses bloom
Just Molly and me and baby makes three
In my blue heaven.
~Frank Sinatra, "My Blue Heaven"
This must be the place, and still
Somehow it don't seem right
That something in the moon
Could change these endless days
To lonely nights
~ The Pogues, "Blue Heaven"
No, I'm not as angst-ridden as all that -- in fact, at the moment, I'm quite comfortable. I'm two-thirds of the way to unpacked and set-up in my new room; it's not actually new to me since I lived here for a semester (or was it a whole year?) during my last difficult days at Marlboro the first time around. I spent some of the most hellish days of my life in this room, avoiding life and everyone who loved me, contemplating oblivion. I thought it would be weird to be back in here, but apart from a degree of familiarity, it's not bad at all. I did make a point of putting all the furniture in as completely-different an arrangement as I could find, though... sometimes just seeing a room from a new angle makes it seem like almost a different place.
There are still a few items missing, a few things left to drag up from basement storage, and a some minor rearrangements to make. This room has both advantages and disadvantages over the room I was in last term -- more windows (with better, leafier views), a neighbor on only one side, some actual bookshelves, and it's a comfortable size for one person. On the other hand, I've also got fewer drawers and less closet space; I can fit everything in, but not in quite as orderly a fashion as I'd like. And I miss my converted half-bunkbed which let me sleep gratifyingly high above the floor. But it's pleasant enough, and I'll find a way to make everything work. Coming back here has given me a strong appreciation for a minimalist life; I have with me only those things I use on a regular basis, plus a few things just for enjoyment, provided I keep using them regularly. Otherwise, out they go. Since I loathe housework, the only way I can keep things in order is to have as few things as possible. With the exception of my actual food, I have an entire functional house's worth of stuff in this one small room, with no obvious clutter; it means I don't own silverware for eight, but I can feed one guest, and that's enough for me.
I was talking to someone (who reads this blog) not long ago, and they mentioned that I probably wasn't very inclined to a domestic life, and at the time I agreed that that was probably true. I actually feel quite strongly about having my own space -- I feel much more secure in the world when I've got a piece of it that I can control -- and I do like to be comfortable surroundings. So I suppose in that sense I've got a domestic side -- and I've certainly gone through nesting phases, and doubtless will again. But I've also gotten accustomed to a stripped-down lifestyle and could live this way quite contentedly for as long as necessary. So generally speaking, my lack of domesticity is solidly established.
But there's a whole other side to that question that complicates the answer, not to mention every other aspect of my life. I feel no strong desire to own property or a house or any of the stuff that goes in one, but I do desperately want a home. And maybe a family someday as well. It doesn't have to be anything traditional -- strange is good, and I'm not picky about what shape it takes as long as it's really and truly mine -- but I've never really had one, y'see, and sometimes I positively yearn for it. No place I've ever been has ever felt like "home"... admittedly, I'm not really sure what it feels like, but I'm pretty sure I haven't felt it yet. Whether that's a function of location or situation, though, I don't know.
This all connects to my current position -- this term I have to decide what I'm going to do next. Work (as in a real, regular job) is unquestionably part of it, but what, and where? Do I stay here, where I'm sorta-kinda comfortable? Do I go back to where I've just come from, where I have friends and associates and the beginnings of a professional reputation but, to my current thinking, no real possibility of making the kind of life I really want for myself? Do I forget all of that and start fresh somewhere else? And if so -- jesus, where would I go? Circumstance may (hopefully will) point the way forward -- I have a kind of zen belief that following the flow, even if it seems to be going in the wrong direction, will get you where you need to be eventually. But I'm not even really sure where it is I'd like to be headed.
Or more accurately, I know where I'd like to go, but it seems like a completely unfeasible, unrealistic destination -- my ideal future is as unlikely as Atlantis. I'm full of contradictory desires -- I want stability in my relationships, but I also want a very large degree of freedom. I want a home, but I want to be able to leave frequently and possibly for extended periods. I want a family, but I also want flexibility; I want the reliability of one good, solid relationship, but I also want it to be as free of ties and bonds and formalities as possible. Basically, I want all the benefits with as little obligation as I can get away with. The obvious answer would be to compromise on either or both side of the equation, or alternately to simply sacrifice one for the other -- and that's basically what I've been doing, giving up the solidity in favor of the freedom. And I suspect, if made to continue to choose one or the other, that's what I'd still do. But it's definitely the kind of choice you feel the weight of in your half-fulfilled life.
I don't have to decide anything right now, of course -- I've got a few months, in which time some things may have changed. Even now some things are present, others are absent, and that will ultimately have a strong influence on whatever I decide to do. Some temporary stability -- even with somewhat less freedom -- wouldn't be an unwelcome thing, provided it came with some other benefits; some quiet time to write and prepare and bring various changes to fruition could be extremely useful right now. And time sorts out every question eventually. But when you're not at all sure where you're headed, or if there's even a "there" there, it's pretty hard to stride confidently towards your future. |