After Saturday's fare-thee-well party where we ate meatballs and chocolate cake, shared stories, and sang our hearts out (or at least I did)... I headed out of the city on Sunday, full of gratitude for where I've been, and the love and belonging I'd been shown there.
Ahead of me stretched a few-hours drive into the country, and an immeasurable life-journey beyond that. 'Siri,' I said, 'Take me home'.
On my way out of the city, I stopped at a Red Cow (something you don't get out in the Middle of Nowhere) for a burger that made me want to cry it tasted so good. It was early afternoon, and I knew that without significant protein, I would be languishing before I reached Small Town, MN. And so, complete with gluten-free bun, separate-fryer-side, and dragon-sauce, I restarted my gps and audiobook, and pointed my car west.
Oh how glad I was to be done with the hardest stage of moving. To have the coming days free from the pressure of work and schedule, to reorder my life a little. To work on my house a lot. To get involved in my sister's family as neighbors once more. Oh so grateful to have this opportunity for new beginnings, for self-expression; room to entertain, and room to dance. And more than anything, grateful for the sense of home waiting for me at the end of my drive.
I've been spending weekends at my house for over a month now. Bit-by-bit, turning a house into a home. Experiencing the peculiarities of small-town life. Some of my interactions back in a Small-Town have been a lesson in amusement:
There's very little smize or conversation coming from the local folk, just a lot of staring. Some of my coworkers from long ago, (who
have been asking for ages whether I'll come back), received the news that
it was happening with barely the lift of an eyebrow or the nod of a
"Whatever the opposite of demonstrative would be." I told a city friend.
"That town," they responded, "Isn't going to know what hit them!"
The first time I went to the hardware store for paint, my sister went with me, and we were able to deliberate, talk with the paint guys, and find what we needed. And after a few trips back to the same aisle, urged by the cashier to choose a better roller or tray, left with what we came for.
My subsequent trips were not always as productive. First, we came to needing a can of paint near closing-time, and so I dashed over and asked if it was too late for a gallon of paint. With six minutes to the hour, and most of the staff having wandered off already, no one was found to mix my paint, and I had to wait till the next day. A week later, when I returned for another gallon of paint, it was a little after 1:30 in the afternoon, loads of time. I don't see anyone near the paint counter, so I have to ask again. Anyone around for paint?
Well, they tell me, that guy has gone to lunch.
Ah. And when will he be back?
Pause, and a glance at the clock. Shrug. Two?
I'll be back then, I tell them, and head back home to spend some productive minutes before I can return for that gallon of paint.
'Local girl returns to Small Town and is stonewalled by the Hardware Store' my sister laughed.
But truly, the painting as a whole has gone swimmingly, and I can now sit back and work on arrangement, organization, and decoration.
My furniture, in one trailer-load, was hauled out here last Friday with the help of my brothers. Mama made dinner, and my sister's family trooped across town to help unload and inaugurate the house with a round of food, plans, and laughter (coffee too).
In the few days that I have really and truly lived here, I have enjoyed making a list each day of things I could accomplish. Some of which I do, in fact accomplish, while some projects that never made it onto any list get done as well. And several items from my lists have been pushed off into the future in favor of learning shuffle-dance steps, making chocolate chip cookies, and writing up business proposals.
But it is immensely satisfying to screw in socket-plates, hang curtains with my new tool kit, hang lights, and frame pictures. To pad about my garden, barefoot but wrapped in a blanket, prodding mint leaves, sniffing cherry blossoms, and grinning at the dandelions and crocuses daring to bloom. While on a zoom-call today, I was distracted by a house sparrow carrying bits of brush to make a nest. And this evening there were bees in the tree blossoms.
In a world heavy and fraught with grief and sickness and upheaval, these small things are truly golden.
The tumult of the world will always break in. Steps of hope as well as stumbles of sorrow. The verdict from Chauvin's trial this week left me and mine weeping in relief and hugging-fit-to-break, over one small step for mankind: a tiny link in the chain of accountability necessary to move forward on human rights. And today, as I wrote on my laptop and made my lunch, I tuned in to NPR's coverage of the funeral for Daunte Wright. Beautiful, moving, and not lightly forgotten. Nor should it be.
These weave together into my days here. From organizing my remaining book-boxes, to cooking a good breakfast with a cup of tea each morning. Making cozy corners, and wide-open spaces in between. Trying to teach the running-man shuffle dance (at which I am no expert) to a bundle of laughing folks in the kitchen, while holding a sleepy toddler: an exercise in joy. Finding a place for the pineapple (gifted to me for my new home) to sit in state until it's cut and eaten. Keeping my plants alive and well. Using my new vacuum. And slowly transforming the space into a surrounding of comfort and beauty.
In future posts, I will show before-and-after pictures of some of the rooms I'm mostly done with. Until then, thanks for coming on this road with me, virtually though it may be. Lovely to 'see' you here from across the miles. More soon,