We have new developments: two of the kitchen can lights are operable. The motion sensor light on the back porch is working once again, and the refrigerator--still outside on the patio--is now plugged into its own outlet, rather than relying on a twelve-foot extension cord.
It’s not magic, but close.
Some of us are handling this remodel better than others.
Thursday, making the hour-long drive from campus, my thoughts were racing. I couldn’t grab one and hold on to it--they were there and gone, each a nonsensical burst of syllables. An idea for my class. How to revise the first scene in my new book. What if something goes wrong with the electrical. What if this project never ends. I pulled over at the halfway point, realizing what was wrong. I’d had nothing to eat in the last eighteen hours, but I had consumed three giant cups of coffee. And while I usually try to balance coffee and water consumption, my water bottle was still filled to the brim.
I glanced at my phone and see that my dad had responded to my early-morning text, sent after I realized that Humphrey hadn’t eaten any of his morning food.
Humphrey may be sick since he threw up after getting here.
Humans and animals alike are being affected by this remodel.
On Friday night, I go to a friend’s birthday-month kick-off: four women, good wine, a charcuterie board and some burrata sprinkled in sea salt that makes me want to close my eyes and die happy. The conversation is wild and interesting, and I love that I’m the least accomplished one at the table, the one with the most to learn. But a part of my mind is with my dogs, hoping they stay on the non-demoed part of the plastic, wondering if they’re sitting in the dark hating me for leaving them alone.
Part of the problem is the whole leaving the house thing. It never felt like a big deal before, back in pre-March 2020 life. But then the whole world was asked to stay at home unless otherwise necessary, and it turned out that much of my life wasn’t necessary. It turned out I could write and teach from home, and order groceries from my home, and Zoom with anyone from home, and go to church in my pajamas from my couch, and the truth is maybe that wasn’t a weird diversion from life but was my actual life.
Maybe I liked staying at home.
Maybe I liked a pared-down version of life, where I didn’t wake up already feeling exhausted, where I had a fairly good idea of what the day held and how to tackle it.
And then, we went back to almost-normal life--vaxxed and masked, but I’m back in the classroom, back on campus, back to Friday nights with friends. And then coming home, it’s not to my safe little space, but to a wall of plastic sheeting, and wide-eyed dogs who are terrified anew every time the A/C kicks in and the plastic rustles, and a lot of uncertainty despite the carefully laid-out schedule.
The truth is, I never appreciated my little home properly until it was my only space, when I was forced out from all the other spaces that had been part of my life--the classroom, my office, the Starbucks where I wrote two novels back to back.
And now, here we are.
Paula Treick DeBoard