I used to do all these little things for him. When we were first dating, and he would go out on fires, I would research new beers and buy him some to put in his fridge to greet him when he got back. I would leave him little notes telling him I was thinking about him. I would make little objects and put them in his wallet or his bag so he would find them at some point during the day and know I was thinking of him. Later on, I would record me singing love songs while he was out on fires and send them to him.
I did big things for him too, but I so enjoyed doing the little things. I don't know why but they felt more meaningful.
It's fire season again and I saw on social media that he is going. My heart ached for the days where I would prepare surprises for him. I am sad that this summer, I will not be looking forward to his return, and savoring every moment of the time he is here. I will not be working in his garden, or on his house. I will not be doing anything for him to let him know how special he is to me.
I woke up feeling this loss acutely today. I don't know if it was the bird song, or the sun, or cloudless sky, but this morning, the ache from the loss of him brought me back to all the things I used to do for him, all of the ways I could express my love.
But I will move on with my day and build my own garden, work on my own house, create a space for myself that is comfort, love and healing all in one. I will spend my creative energy, as I have these past months, on myself. I have been doing just fine with this since January, doing special little things, making little objects for my home, planting herbs and fruit along what will be a garden path to my front door.
As I work to make my tiny house a home, I wonder if this is what was missing all along. If my efforts to make him feel special took too much of my attention away from caring for myself. I suspect it might be the case. I have a habit of doing this, and for him, I fell so deeply in love that I might have lost myself in it a bit. I do not blame him and I don't regret it. I am happy to have loved him so deeply.
I am also happy that I am now showing myself this love. Happy that my tiny house is not even finished yet it is full of the care I have always brought to my personalized living spaces. I am eager to sit in my garden among the flowers and the herbs and the fruits of my labor and drink in the love I have poured into my new life.
How lovely it is to feel this, how lucky he must have felt to have it. How sad it is that it had to end in order for me to provide this for myself. I feel this as my own failing, and the hard lesson in it grates on the tender edges of my life and points to the work still to be done. This is not the satisfying work of the garden or the home; it is the grueling work of the heart. It is the work that must be done if I am to move on and into any type of new relationship in the future.
But for now I won't worry about that. For now I will work in my garden and for now, that will be enough.
There are days that wake me from my sound body. They get going before I do and call back to me to shake a leg and move into the bright. I ramble in and bump around between the hours, hands in the deep pockets of my overalls, feeling my way through the flowers and the herbs, the house, the work. On these days, I don't know if I am in a waking slumber or a sleeping consciousness, but as I move through and within this dream, I feel out my life.
I have been quietly counting minutes, raindrops, and clicks of the key board. I count steps. I count bags of tea. I count the birds that visit me in my places and immediately forget the numbers, because after all, they don't really add up, not to anything of substance but a life passing by.
As I go through my days, I consider whether I am spending my time or passing it. I engage as actively as I can, then release the engagement within a terrified wonder. Am I deciding to die or to live? Have I brought the life I have always wanted to me, or just thrown it away? I am in between everything that is this and that, and as I move through, I carry an ache within me that is almost unbearable.
There is great joy too, but this is always tied to events, accomplishments, and experiences. I am striving for a sustain. I am reaching for something that is not dependent upon an action, but on an awareness. I am looking for more than a safe place to keep my things, I am looking for a container for a life of value.
As I plan for the lock for my front door, I bask in the irony of keeping safe all of that which for so long lived comfortably packed away in a basement. I consider tossing it all to keep my home sparse, or at least, free of things that for so long have not mattered enough to consider. I ruminate on the objects I want to live with and around, and at how much joy I will feel at being in a home that feels exactly like me. I used to believe that I could know myself through all the things I use to fill space in my life, but this proved to be a hollow knowledge. Later, I thought, I could better understand myself through interactions and reactions within stressful situations, but this whittled me down to my bones.
In the end, I hope I to recognize myself over and over, within the experiences and events that will make up my life. I will float on within the days that pull or push me through and open myself up to what might come my way. I will listen to the breath rattling within me, feel the heart pumping the blood that rushes, and smell the stink of furious engagement.
And I will continue to ask, "how can I know myself?"
Even in my dreams, the ones filled with light and love and unending acceptance, did I not see how much this would mean to me.
After a few years of not really having a proper home of my own, the one I have been building with my own two hands is just about ready to receive me. I guess I didn't realize just how important it is for me to feel like I belong. But it matters, and the fact that I have provided it for myself, with little help from anyone, is a gift I didn't see coming.
I have been going through my belongings, the ones that I have been keeping in a distant basement, and holding them again has helped me to remember my fire. All of the stuff, which is not much in the grand scheme of things, that has filled the edges and corners of my life with comfort are finally coming out of their boxes and into the light.
I have set up my house with a few bird feeders so that the birds will greet me every morning, and I have a window from which to view their antics. This will be a house of my healing, the realization that all I had to give up for a little while was well worth the sacrifice.
It is tiny, my new home, the size of a small bedroom, but what will reverberate within its walls, a life of love and generosity and reflection, will exponentially increase its physical boundaries.
I have lived in many large rooms, many lovely rooms. But with all their beauty and richness, there was hollowness without the fullness of me within them. For no matter how large the room, if you cannot expand within it, then what good is it?
My Aunt had a house of stunning, cold rooms. I remember the smaller me amidst the beautiful art on the walls and the tables, all surrounded by cream and beige furniture. In all that beauty, I was afraid to breathe or even move too much, less I puncture the air surrounding the beautiful things. I would not dare touch them, or even sit without an invite. My Wranglers were always muddy from play, my Zips always caked with the grass and the gravel of my childhood. I could not help but dirty those rooms no matter how small I made myself.
My childhood house was different. Everything touchable, nothing too precious to sacrifice to the fire of youth. My parents loved things, but did not love them more than their small children. For a few years, it was a safe place to play. I can feel myself recreating something like that, something like a place where I am allowed to be.
My house welcomes all evidence of a life well-lived, of my life, no matter how messy, or how inconvenient, I will always be welcome within the walls of my new home. This thought brings me to the edge of tears, where the fullness of my breath rushes into my body and cleans away the sorrow of holding back.
I don't have to hold back any longer, not in my new home.
I'm moving in next week. I'm so excited and surprised by how much this means to me that I almost can't believe it. Thanks for reading and thanks for the messages I get in the replies to my newsletter. They help me get through the dark days. If you are not a newsletter receiver and want to be, just sign up there to the right. If you don't want one more dumb thing in your inbox, I don't blame you. I don't either. It's all I can do to keep up with the 100+ unnecessary emails I get every day.
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