Here I sit, not out of my home of 23 years but emotionally not in it either. Ever since that conversation with Len last week, where, with one sentence, “We’re selling the house.”, he obliterated the warm, safe, cozy, loving space I called home. And yet, I’m still here among all the things and memories that made this a wonderful place to live. But, now, they surround me with a sadness because all of us are being booted out in April. So now I’m nowhere — not home here nor anywhere else.
I remember back in 1969, being in Berlin and crossing at Checkpoint Charlie on a tram. There was, (I think I remember this right), a small stretch of land that was neither in East nor West Berlin, it was no-man’s — or in my case “woman’s” — land. As we sat there in the dark waiting for something or someone, we were actually nowhere at all. It was a slightly scary place to be. You were neither one place nor another. Would anyone care if we disappeared in that place? But, there, at least, the tram did start moving and we arrived in East Berlin in time to get to the ballet. (How did we get tickets to that ballet? Interesting the things you just don’t remember.) But this process takes a whole lot longer than just starting up the tram again.
I’ve never been good in in-between places and, let me tell you, I haven’t improved with age. I remember during all that moving about in the 70s in Europe, there was always a tiny knot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach because of not knowing where to call home. That whole journey, for me at least, was searching for home. (Pick up a copy of Mediterranean Journey: A Young Woman’s Travels Through 1970s Europe for the whole story.) Actually, I think I’ve been on that journey my entire life. Now, here, in this space and in this neighbourhood, I had finally found it. That’s what hurts the most about this, I think. It took me 70 years and a hell of a lot of moves here and there to get to this sense of rootedness.
It’s why the thought of moving out of this community can bring me into sobs harder and faster than anything else. Yes, I’ll miss this beautiful space with all the light and my wonderful balcony garden. Yes, I’ll miss having Lennie right next door and calling him over for supper or delivering containers of soup to him. Yes, I’ll miss looking out at the chestnut tree every morning. Yes, I’ll miss having Margaret right across the street. But, if I can stay in this neighbourhood, I can make a new space home and that is even exciting when I think about it. As long as it has light and a place to sit outside where I can plant a pot (not “pot”) and has a window on the street so I don’t feel isolated, and, of course, a place where the cats can age along with me happily, I can make it home. (Throw in a washer and dryer and we’re set.)
So the challenge is to have faith during this purgatory of waiting that everything’s going to be ok or even better than ok. And I have to keep telling people what I need and to plan. But, as my wise brother, Fred, advised me, I should “put planning in a more trusting perspective.” He wrote, “We’re not totally in control of our future and we’re more peaceful when we remember and practice this.”
And, as folks have been reminding me, I’ve been through worse than this and came out happier and better and more peaceful at the end. I’ve been telling the cats that we’re going to be just “fine, fine, fine” and not to worry. It’s time that I, too, embraced those words because I know it’s true. The home search continues.