Sunday Morning ~ Change
Masiku athena ku citseko.~ Days come to an end, a door opens to let things in and let things go.
~ Chewa proverb
July 11, 2021
Transition summer: isolation to sociality is more of an adjustment than I anticipated. Change is uncomfortable, even when that change is desired. Entrenched in our groove, the familiar is comforting and derailing is painful, unsettling and confusing. When change is thrust upon us, our choices are to adapt or suffer. It’s been interesting to watch. As Megginson said, “It’s not the strongest or most intelligent who survive, but those most adaptable to change.” At the Mammoth Caves I learned of the fish adapting to the darkness whose eyes gradually disappeared. No need for them. I wonder if our skin will darken as the planet warms, protecting us from the searing sun.
Until last year, summers here were full of fundraisers, galas, music festivals, art exhibits, craft fairs. I was hardly still for two consecutive hours over the summer. It was a balancing act to fit a job in there. With my guests being on vacation I’d pretend I was on vacation, too, scooting away for a bit to earn a paycheck. When the kids were teenagers I put thousands of miles on the car dropping off and picking them up from summer jobs. Then last year, nothing. Streets were quiet. I hardly entered a grocery store, and when I did it was only to buy milk and leave. I adjusted to the solitude and discovered I liked the peacefulness of it. I painted. I knit. I read. I had my census job that I’d do for a few hours a day, then come home to an empty driveway, house, and garden. It felt so strange. I didn’t set up my porch bed last year because it felt strange to have the house unoccupied at night. It was one less chore to set up and take down in the fall. I thought maybe I’d give that practice up and sleep inside year round. But the early heat wave in June nudged me to make my bed, crawl under my net, and let the night sounds lull me to a sleep that is sound and deep.
I have always been happy to share my home; there is space for many people and the summers have historically been a constant flow of students, musicians, family, friends, and friends of friends bunking for one night or several. In summer the house is alive. The top floor fills with working students grateful to find a room. They work odd hours, usually more than one job, and I greet them coming and going and see them off with a wave in late August. Last summer was strange having the house to myself. The only slap of the screen door was when I walked through it.
This year, the bodies are back. It was slow at first. Just one person living upstairs, not the usual two or three. I adjusted to footsteps and doors creaking, fans whirring and dryer spinning. Now another guest, a member of the opera cast and there are fresh conversations, cocktail hours, morning coffee. I’m remembering how much I love meeting new people and hearing about their lives. I love hearing their reaction to the nest I’ve created. I love see them settle into it; it’s what I always wanted this to be. That said, it’s an adjustment, just as it was the other way around. My organization is rusty. I am slow to combine following a recipe with carrying on an engaged conversation. But at least I’m cooking again, so that’s something. That had taken a seat way in the back over the past year. Aside from scrambled eggs and corn bread, I did nothing more complicated for the table for one. Now I am trying to remember which serving plate and salad bowl is where. I’m dusting off the steak knives and wine glasses. The toilet paper stockpile in the basement is dwindling.
This moment is making me take a breath and evaluate what activities are worth it to me. How social was enough? Do I need to say “Yes” to everything? How much was obligation and how much desire? I am anxious about carrying on a conversation, something I never used to worry about. The French group meets this evening and I realize I haven’t spoken French since Bastille Day two years ago. Will everyone be as rusty as me? My brain seems slow in response and I can’t remember words or names. I’ll force myself to go. I remember it brought me pleasure and no one judges. I’ll listen more, talk less. Smile more. Adapt.
Love to all,