Last night we returned home after a glorious snowy week in the mountains with our kids and grandkids. We had snowman building, snowball fighting, snow-angel making, sledding; we even made snow ice cream. Indoors it was all popcorn and games and movies beside the proverbial roaring fire. It was the quintessential winter holiday, especially for children born and raised in Florida. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen the pictures in the L.L. Bean catalogues; it was just like that. Seriously. They could have done next year’s photo shoot at our cabin!
But it took some work to make it happen. Moreover, before that we had two weeks of frenzied Christmas preparations preceded by a three-week whirlwind tour of Indochina. During all this time my house has been turned upside down with a “simple” remodeling project that was supposed to be finished when we got home from our trip but has morphed into a greedy, multi-tentacled monster. Four of the downstairs rooms are intact, but the entire upstairs is a train wreck. Seriously.
We’re camping out in my daughter’s old room while our bedroom is off limits. The other rooms are crammed with furniture, books and clothes. The carpeting in the loft where I write was replaced with wood flooring the week before Christmas. Except for a few slender cables connecting my computer to the wall, my desk is floating, unmoored, in the middle of the room. I’m sitting here trying to get this post written for publication tomorrow while one workman is ripping off floor molding behind which he will hide some exposed wires formerly hidden by the carpet, and another is using a very loud power saw. Three more men are tearing out part of a wall and rewiring electricity in what used to be our bedroom. (Oops, scooting my chair forward a bit. Someone just passed behind me with a ladder.)
Welcome to the House of Chaos. Excuse me for a moment while I step outside and emit a primal scream or two. Just kidding. Not really. Lately I tear up at the least provocation, and I know for sure it’s not PMS. Last night my husband was trying to make me feel better. After reciting the litany of all we’ve done over the six weeks he said, “Do we know anyone else our age who could have done all this?” My response was, “Why would they want to?” I don’t like to whine, but this is ridiculous. What were we thinking? (Oops, wincing at a blast from a very loud Shop Vac.)
I’m not feeling very perky or wise right now. In fact, I’m sort of questioning my sanity. What’s going on here? There’s meaning in all this. There always is. In dreams a house is a symbol for the psyche. My house is a mess. My psyche’s a mess right now too. Did a temporary onset of psychological chaos, perhaps brought on by unconscious unresolved issues surrounding the holidays, contribute to the physical chaos? Was it the other way around? Or am I just losing it?
But I know better. Life is all about cycles and I’m in a downswing. At times like this, mental gymnastics don’t help much. What I really need is to step out of the tidal wave in my head and accept the tornado of my life without worrying how I got here or how long it will last. Like when I go to the dentist: just close my eyes and breathe. (Breathing now.)
By the way, between the last paragraph and this one we put my desk back where it belongs and tidied up my work area and everyone left for lunch. For the moment I’m enjoying the eye of the hurricane. Thanks for listening.
It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave