Yesterday, I spent my evening in Louisville’s art district talking to strangers and saying “hello” to my tattoo artist. After a couple hours of trying to exercise my social muscles, I headed back to my jeep where I sat and smoked. (Yes, I know. I’m trying to cut that out.)
Cars passed. Hipster couples walked by with ironically named dogs. A drizzle hit my windshield to the sound of “Can We Kiss Forever” by Kina.
Sidebar: Why do I mention songs so much? I do that in, like, every post now. I like music, yeah, but I wouldn’t call myself an audiophile. I think that sometimes songs just punctuate particular emotions at the time. If it sticks out to me, I feel like it might resonate with someone else, but I’m not sure. Maybe we can start a new drinking game: drink every time The Ghost mentions a song you have never heard.
I open up my GPS and punch in the address to the house. The house. I live in an apartment now. I catch my mistake almost immediately, and a feeling hits me that I don’t think I have ever felt before. Not loneliness or confusion. Surprise peppered with a little bit of anger, I guess. I’m not sure if there is an actually word for this one. Unbidden maybe?
Anyway, the point is that it threw me for a loop, and I started a video chat with The Hamiltons and a couple other friends. I cried. I talked about the grieving process, and how not everything I do to keep them in the loop about me is going to be glamorous. It felt only fair that if they want to share my triumphs, they should also see my moments of despondence.
I’ve feverishly attempted to nest in my new digs, and so far I feel like I have done really well. I have tapestries, LED string lights, and a microwave. I have matching dinnerware and a framed cross stitch of the words “YOU DIED.” It’s surprisingly cozy all things considered.
Despite all of that, I’m not sure if it feels like home yet. Well… actually I’m pretty positive that it doesn’t feel like home. That would be like saying “I don’t know if I’m in love with you.”
When I’m sitting on my couch, watching Netflix, and eating whatever I have managed to scrounge up that day, I will look around and try to foster a feeling of presentness.
“I am here,” I will tell myself. “I am right here, right now.”
For a while, that was good enough. That satiated my ego, but then I guess the masochist in me decided now would be a good time to pay a little visit and leave me with a house warming gift. The parcel came in the form of a little persistent question. “Do you belong?”
So, do I belong? I know I am here. I know where I am geographically, and with a quick google search I could even give you the exact longitude and latitude. The platitude “Wherever you go, there you are” came to mind. It looks good on a throw pillow. It has a nice little morsel of zen poetry to it, but like… really?
Theoretically, I could stumble over to the Louisville Zoo, buy a ticket, find the grizzly bear exhibit, and hop the fence.
“Ah, yes. Here I am,” I tell the 600 pound, fur clad monstrosity. It rears up with its kitchen knife like claws glistening above his head. Little does he know that I know exactly where I am. He also doesn’t appreciate the nuances of zen philosophies, and I am promptly gored to the dismay of several dozen middle school field trippers. A teacher nods stoically, “Now that’s a guy who understands geo-location.”
At this point, I want to belong somewhere or at least feel like I do. My cozy little apartment is a far cry from the dangers of a grizzly bear exhibit, but I just don’t feel like it is taking to me very kindly. Sometimes, (oh god, I’m going to sound fucking bonkers) I will talk to some articles around the house.
“Thanks for keeping things cold, fridge. Couldn’t do it without you.”
“Damn couch; you comfy.”
“TOILET, WILL YOU PLEASE STOP FLUSHING ON YOUR OWN YOU GOD DAMN PIECE OF SHIT SWALLOWING REFUSE!”
Stuff like that. You know, like a completely normal, mentally stable person.
I’m trying to form a little relationship with my environment. I mentioned how important that is to me in a previous post. It is part of my psychology that I really value, honestly. Yes, I should probably stop yelling at my toilet, especially since I could just call the maintenance guy and get that whole situation rectified in a couple hours.
All that being said, I have changed my tactics a bit as far as grounding myself goes. Belonging is an impermanent state. It is in flux constantly. I belong in my friends’ home for a couple hours occasionally, but eventually I will outstay my welcome. I will no longer belong for a while. So, here is my strategy: In moments where I do feel like I belong, I acknowledge it and take a mental note. The ability to shift perspective is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal.
My friend also mentioned something interesting the other day, and I think I want to end with this. She sees her home as safe when other people feel safe in it. She didn’t really start getting those “homey” vibes until she started hosting again. The memories are like mental decorations to cozy up your perception of the place where you lay your head. It is an interesting thought, and maybe it is one I’ll explore more.
More on that in the future.