the quiet of my house
i’ve been cataloging, the last few days, the things i’ll miss.
i’ve been walking through my life keeping watch, and taking silent census.
it’s become, i’ve realized, an inventory of the ordinary made sacred.
i can’t deny, as i roam from room to room, this house of mine, this creaking groaning house, has, in many ways, become the vessel for a prayerful life.
no hallelujah chorus here, no cymbals clanging by the hour.
just the barely-noticed wisps–through the window panes, amid the wind-blown daffodils, cast upon the kitchen table–that launch for me a tapestry of joy and wonder.
a place of simple, daily prayer, is what it is. and what i’ll miss. so very much.
i’ll miss the birdsong all day long, and the doings of the little sparrows who, on the branch outside my window, propagate the species.
i’ll miss my sweet holy viburnum exploding right before my eyes. and my traipsings, not infrequent, to see what’s sprouting, improbably, through the sodden thawing earth.
i’ll miss knowing how the light slants in at noon. or 10. or 2.
i’ll miss being alone.
oh, i’m not going too far, and i’m not going so long, really. just downtown, three days a week.
it’s just that for 16 years almost, i’ve worked from where i live; i’ve lived from where i work. i’ve cleaned the sink, then put in a call to ms. or mr. know-it-all, or, sometimes, just the random hoi polloi.
i’ve dashed to close the windows when the rain came pouring down, and then returned to type a sentence. or several hundred. and all the while soaked up the rat-a-tat of pounding rain as it punctuated and permeated the percussive clicking on the keyboard.
i have, over all these years, found sublime the rhythms of my wholly seamless life, the way i’ve chopped onions while thinking up a verb. or made beds while waiting for the phone to ring. my one job never ends, and neither does my other. and i’ve come to love it that way–to count on it.
but, these days, much is changing. and last week the folks i write for told me i’ll be writing on their turf. not mine. they need me nearby. i understand, of course, but it hardly means that i’m not aching.
i started this experiment in typing lifetimes ago, really. i’d not yet birthed my firstborn, but one hot day in may, i waddled home, dumped my notebooks, and never did go back.
after he was born, i didn’t miss the office, not one day. didn’t give it a thought, not much anyway. not till the weeks turned into months and the unavoidable truth was seeping in: it was nearly time to start to type again. but i couldn’t leave. couldn’t figure out how i’d up and wrench myself away from the little one who owned my heart.
i had a boss back then–and now it seems like once-upon-a-time ago, the stuff of fairy tales–who said this to teary me: “i don’t care if you write from mars, just turn in great stuff.”
and so, from mars, i tried.
along the way, on this planet where i’ve typed, i’ve become a certain sort of mother-writer. and this old house–nearly as much as its inhabitants–has pulled me in, sunk into my bones. but even more, my heart.
these walls i’ve memorized. these creaky floor boards, and the pipes that sing. i know them all. we’ve grown accustomed to our quirky ways. i understand that the pipes are old, and whining now. i know the shower’s got the shakes, at least, that is, when you slam the water off, too swiftly for its feeble constitution.
more than anything, though, what i’ll miss are the ways my house invites the outside in. or, sometimes, how the outside merely barges in, not waiting for a proper beckoning.
it’s in the spilling of the sunlight, or the bird that perches on my sill, that i feel cupped some days in the palm of God.
i’ve grown porous over all these years, and my house has too.
seems i need the blessed stream of birdsong and the dappled light–it’s the holiest of holies here among us–to keep me upright, keep my knees from buckling under.
and it’s the uninterrupted hours alone in this old house and rambly garden that i’ve come to call my peace on earth.
but now, instead, i’ll ride a rumbling train, dodge taxicabs that nearly leap the curb. i’ll sit all day amid a room of metal cubicles, and crusty folk who cuss. an awful lot, i tell you.
it’ll take some getting used to, if i ever truly do.
and when the day is done, when at last i’m bumbling in the door, and safely back where i belong, i do believe i’ll traipse, all right. from room to room. around the so-called grounds.
i’ll wind the clock, perhaps. fluff the pillows that the cat has squished, shake out the bits of fur.
i’ll see what’s bloomed while i’ve been gone.
i’ll poke my nose where the sparrows built their nest.
i’ll search for signs that God stopped by–even if by flashlight, i have to comb for evidence.
oh, lordy, this was hard to write. i started back at half past five this morning, then stopped to do the million things the day demanded. some other day, perhaps, i’ll tell of the very hardest part of all of this–leaving the little one, the one who bounds in each day from school. the one who asked, “but, mommy, what if i come home all sad?”
or perhaps i’ll tell the story of the saint behind the byline, my mama who stepped right up to the plate, said she’d be here after school two days. and fix dinner, besides. i’m blessed. and so so tired. so g’night for now. i’ll be back to clean this up, tomorrow. for now, it’s the best these tired hands could type.