We moved in August to a new house, which has been the kind of place that asserts its place-ness at every turn. It wasn’t interested in our convenience; it had its own drama from the start. The front steps wobbled like the teeth of a veteran boxer, the wall in the downstairs bathroom bubbled with water from a thousand rains, and then, oh, a whole nest of yellow jackets rooted itself in the gutter and sent its little tiny emissaries in through the cracks. By the half-dozen, they roosted on the wall in the upstairs hall every morning. Waiting.
These things got fixed. One by one. And we unpacked boxes, and books went onto bookshelves, and- and-… we live here. It is good. We’re across from a big park, situated on a corner so there’s light on all sides, and we have a big front lawn that’s weedy and weird, bordered by thorny old rose bushes. It’s me, Oriana, Whit and Pat, and this is the best. Because it means the house is always full of food and friends, and this makes such a difference for things like mental health, peace, safety and general calmness. Someone else is making coffee, someone can listen to the bad day and the good day, and someone knows just what cocktail to make for each.
Last night Oriana made a big dinner for us and a childhood friend of hers, and afterwards Pat built a fire in the fire pit out front. It made me remember just how calming a contained piece of fire can be, and how watching an element at work can erode the layers of worry that build up over the course of the day. You can be the happiest person, and still worry, and still need fire to stare at until the logs split, into glowing embers pushing through a spiderweb of cracks.
But the good part is, I don’t have as many questions as I used to. I don’t have all the answers, but I don’t stare at a fire and wonder what it all means. I know exactly what it means, that we are insignificant and mutable, that we hold on to what we have until it falls away.