We moved in April. From one part of suburbia to an even more suberby suberbia. To a house on a street named Sleepy Hollow that we own instead of rent.
It has a fenced in yard, and neighbors we’ve hardly met. There’s a beautiful bike trail right down the street that I have yet to discover past three miles. We planted three tomato plants in our small garden. The house is coming along with freshly painted walls, and a long list of projects we are slowly tackling. We have yet to hang a thing on any wall, so while it feels like a place to live, it doesn’t quite feel just yet like home.
When we were house hunting a friend gave me some advice. Just live in your space, she said. Don’t worry about furnishing it and making it perfect right away, just live in it. Have people over for dinner — gather around your card table in the dining room, put their glasses on your stacks of cardboard boxes. Live in it and slowly craft it into what you want it to be.
I love her advice. I think there is value in accepting things as they are — however chaotic and imperfect. I think there is value in rejecting the urges of consumerism that tell us material items will make our lives whole. And I think there is value, especially, in not waiting until the “right time” to enjoy your life. To invite your loved ones to meet you where you are — even if where you are is right in the middle of a mess.
But still my need for order runs deep. The need for a plan and to execute the plan precisely. It helps me feel in control. On Friday nights I make detailed weekend to-do lists, and on Saturday mornings one of the first things I do is unload the dishwasher because I have to put things away in order to think.
There’s been a heaviness in my chest since we moved into our house…..a heaviness that I can’t explain. I’ve mulled over it incessantly trying to pinpoint its origins. I’m usually pretty good at acknowledging my feelings and why they exist, but I can not figure this one out.
Is it the disorder and chaos that comes with a move? Three months later and we still have boxes to unpack. Is it the fact that I feel thrown off from my writing groove and the long list of article ideas I haven’t been able to bring myself to touch? Is it that I have weaned off of my antidepressants and my body is still adjusting? Is it that I think I want another child, but I’m absolutely terrified of going through all of that again?
Around the edges and always present is my dad and the cancer he is living with. Aggressive. Stage 4. Whatever that means.
This is where I need a plan most of all. I need to execute it precisely. I need to furnish it and make it perfect.
I’ve been waiting for answers since we found out nine months ago. I thought it was right around the corner — the next doctor’s appointment, after the surgery, after the treatment, after the next test. Once we had answers we could come up with a plan, and the other parts of my life would fall into place. If I could just follow a plan, I could have some control.
But there will be no answers. At least not in the form I want. Not in neat predicable timelines where we know exactly how many Christmases we have left. Not in the assurance that any and all treatment will be covered and available. There is no what-to-expect pamphlet, and while there are many resources and support networks available, there is no one-size-fits all guide.
And I have to find a way to live in it. To navigate the uncertainty with as much hope as I can muster. To take each day for what it is, not what it could be or what I want it to be. To find some way to not only be comfortable with ambiguity, but to thrive in it.
This is not easy for me, but I’m trying. I’m trying to find a way to just live in this space. To have people over and laugh around our card table, and mismatched furniture, and to gather around the boxes and the bare walls. I’m trying to find joy in this mess.