Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Feathering My Nest

As I said, it's time to divide the property, so that means we have to get the house appraised. So, today and tomorrow, his and hers appraisers are coming over. Which, in turn, means that I've spent the morning tidying up. I'm not here very much, so you'd think there wouldn't be much mess. I don't know who's breaking into my house while I'm gone and leaving little piggy piles, but I'd be grateful if that person would cease and desist!

But as I run around and put things away and dust the surfaces that then reveal themselves, plans start to form in my head. This end table could go here instead of there. Why do I own this gruesome couch at all? I think the porch curtains should attach to the rods the way a shower curtain attaches... wouldn't that be cute? Or maybe fabric shades would be better out there???? On and on and on...

I have always maintained that it must be a very dull person who can't think of ideas faster than she can implement them. By that measure, I am fascinating ;)

Apparently, this is a common phenomenon. It's not just retail therapy as a strategy for healing, because I'm cleaning not buying. A quick browse through cyber-space suggests that there is "divorce decorating" and even "revenge decorating." Divorce decorating is the gradual (or not, I suppose) purging of the signs of the other person. His books off the shelf... his knick-knacks gone... the things he insisted on removed... that kind of thing. It can be liberating to decide what I want, how I want to use rooms, how I want to inhabit this house. Revenge decorating seems silly and sad. It's when, say, he hated florals and you dump a chintz factory over your house after the divorce. He's not going to see it, forcryingoutloud!!!

I think I'm doing something different from either of those. I do want to fully inhabit my house, my planet, my life, and learning how I want to live here is part of that. On the other hand, the revenge decorating just seems ridiculous. Of course, I have been unable to even summon anger, so revenge seems like way too much energy to spend on someone I can't even respect any more.

I think this nesting process is actually a form of crisis management. I almost lost myself earlier in this process. There is no hyperbole there. My interior certainty about my identity was just plain gone. When you're walking around in a fog like that (hopefully dressed appropriately and without mascara running down your cheeks from crying), friends and loved ones will offer suggestions as to who you are. "You're strong, capable, smart, important...." ....whatever they can think of that used to be true. These affirmations are essential. But there's a dangerous tendency for the lost person to just tiredly agree. "OK, I guess I'm that" and then wander off, again living someone else's vision for her life.

I don't want to suggest that those affirmation are wrong. On the contrary, they're an essential touchstone. But the grieving person still has to re-locate her own center, and that just takes time. I'm not finished, heaven knows, but it's coming together. Remember that feeling in college when you saw how big the world really is...the possibilities, the ideas, the places, the enormity of the options? I'm starting to feel that way again -just a little bit and just sometimes.

So, having the house I want, no matter how gradually it evolves, is part of that claiming of opportunities. I want light and color and warmth and maybe just a little bit of wit. I want soft textiles and comfortable chairs and good smells coming from the kitchen. I want to be the house where people say "let's pop over and see what's happening at Andrea's." And metaphorically -if you strain your brain and squint a little- you can see how those things could be broadened to show me part of who I am at my core.

But if I don't go dust a few more things, nobody's going to want to come over!! But just for fun, here's a little gratuitous house-gorgeousness:


Michael said...

While I can't say as I've ever had the experience of redecorating after a breakup, I can say that one of the things I've enjoyed most about being out on my own is the ability to control my own environment, within certain parameters over which I don't have much control. No, I can't decide to rip out the carpeting and put in hardwood floors (why would I want to, anyway?). But I do like being able to set the thermostat to a level that makes me feel comfortable. Putting up pictures and whatnot on the walls in the places where they make sense to me--and not having to hide things because they don't match someone else's tastes. Being able to burn a little incense now and then in times of prayer or reflection. (Always drove my mom insane.) Sit around in the dark thinking or watching TV if I feel like it.

This place has been my nest through all the crap of the last year. Without it, I don't know what I'd have done.

So here's to getting to build yours. You've earned it, girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

love the pictures. Achoo!! Achoo!! I'll see you in August!