For the most part, I live a peaceful and positive life, but some recent events are messing with my mind and cluttering up the nooks and crannies of my spirit. I apologize in advance for this long Jeremiad; it’s certainly not required reading. But in writing this journal entry, I’m hoping to do some internal housekeeping.
I do realize that some people would consider my leaking pipes a blessing in disguise; turns out, the damage was significant enough that my kitchen needed a complete makeover. We’re lucky in the sense that we can make that happen. Let’s face it, even with insurance, not everyone would be able to afford even the most basic repairs. Witness: the still-unhabitable areas along the Gulf Coast.
Having lived through an unsettled childhood, I know firsthand how it feels to be homeless and hungry. Today, I am neither. We’ve been eating out every night while our kitchen’s inoperable; for many, that’s an unimaginable luxury. I am blessed with a wonderful family, a lovely home, and plenty to eat. So I’ve tried to put a positive spin on things, even though the project’s now exiting its eight week. Still, I find myself struggling to remember that home is where the heart is — that feeling “right at home” somewhere doesn’t require a clean house or a functioning kitchen.
As I looked for images for my entry about school supplies, some long-buried memories bubbled to the surface. It was a fun show-and-tell entry, but I hid the lede, which was about having to do without. I imagine almost every child has, for curiosity’s sake, taste-tested library paste. I ate it for an entirely different reason. When writing that post, I was remembering the humiliation and hunger I felt, in equal measure, as I sneaked paddles-ful of someone else’s paste to help fill my empty tummy. Lord help me, how dare I complain when all my basic needs are being met, and really, I want for nothing?
Coincidentally, two comic strips were juxtaposed in my morning newspaper. Even though they represent oppositional perspectives, each of them depicts some important thoughts I’m mulling over today.
After eight weeks of living in a house of disrepair, I’m feeling very vulnerable and needy. In many ways, I’m relying on the kindness of strangers. I count on contractors to do the job they’ve been paid to perform, but in some outrageous and awful ways, one of them has let us down. In sandpapering away our trust, he’s also taken the shine off my spirit. I find myself retreating to my office and calling on my friends more than ever. Oftentimes, I log onto LiveJournal, a place where I can learn and laugh — and where I once again remember that no matter what happens on the first floor of my house, in my second-floor office, I am a writer whose world isn’t limited (thank God) to that god-awful mess downstairs. I’m grateful to all of you, my friends, for your ongoing gifts of support and understanding. Please, may I have another?
But I also realize that I alone can create the environment (home and spirit) I want to live in. At some point, our house will be put back together again, and I know it’ll be beautiful and will reflect my preferences better than before. In the meantime, I need to remember, as the second comic strip suggests, that Paradise is a world we construct and carry inside our heads and hearts. Emerson puts it so eloquently: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” I can’t keep wishing away the days, hoping I’ll find peace and happiness at the end of the remodel. As of today, I’m on a search-and-rescue mission for Paradise; I know for sure that I won’t find it in my kitchen.