A Post Having Zero To Do With Politics. You’re Welcome.

I am sitting in my fort made of boxes, with my scarf and coat on, like a seven-year-old on a miserable weather day, all by herself, waiting for something. For the ninth day in a row, I am not closing on my house. This time, after getting home at 2am from a mind-melting twelve hours at work and a few cobbled-together hours of something like sleep, I found during the (allegedly) final walk-through that the back bedroom’s wall had suddenly grown stripes. Either the house was painting itself in decorator fashion, or there was water damage.

Sandy. Sandy and the roof, or a joint, or a chimney or some other such insidious flaw.

I am so, so tired. Work, work stress, house stress, this godforsaken obstacle course of an apartment that can’t be cleaned for all the piles of boxes, the mental gymnastics of scheduling between an unforgiving job and blessedly flexible movers and helpers I feel guilty for putting out… a hurricane, a nor’easter (meaning more work)… oh, and did you know there was an earthquake in New Jersey the other day? Really? That wasn’t just a tad over the line?

*Whistle blown*  *Flag thrown*  Unnecessary roughness – Offense. Penalty: um… I’ll work on that.

And so I flopped on my couch in my coat and scarf. Might as well keep it on. It’s a little chilly and now I’ve got to go to work in an hour.

Yes, yes, I’m glad the wall grew stripes before I owned the house. But I would much prefer it not having grown them at all. Now I’m not at all sure I trust the guy who’s selling me the house to get the problem fixed correctly, and the lock on the loan is up Friday, which means if we don’t close Friday, I’m at the theoretical mercy of new interest rates and the paperwork has to be redrawn, stuff has to go back to the underwriter, blah… blah…

…blah.

I have trust issues. Did we not go over this?

I already had to have a fight with the loan processor yesterday because I found $720 in three separate appraisal fees to be a tad… um… what’s the word?… completely unacceptable. Turns out the second and third charges were levied because the work wasn’t done on the house when the appraiser was there the first time (um, seller’s problem, not mine) and because they went back after the storm (the appraiser, mind you… not the inspector… at the bank’s demand, not in an area required for a re-check, and definitely not worth the charge). Talk about assessing value. Tip: rain does not shrink a house. It’s not made out of wool. And if I charged $175 every time I walked through a house all blase’-blase’ I’d be a damned millionaire.

I won the fight, by the way. Neener neener neener. And Hottie McHousehunter may be nice to look at, but I am covering my own ass in this purchase and I will cut a bitch if I have to.

And I think you should know that it’s getting very Lord of the Flies in my apartment these days. I mean I wouldn’t be shocked to discover a boy with a bayonet and facepaint jump out from behind a pile of boxes any minute now and spear the cat because there’s no food in this place. I wouldn’t be shocked if the cat jumped out wielding a bayonet and facepaint, for that matter.

Oh, and… AND… take a wild guess who decided to poke me with a stick in the cyber-universe.

Thaaat’s right. Jack.

I had posted my usual stirring and rousing-in-the-chestal-region words about election day on the Zuckerberg page, written with cadence and rhythm of which Sam Seaborn would be proud, casting the shadow of history in favor of taking responsibility and being grateful for opportunity, urging my friends to go vote. Right? And who cares if people like it or comment or don’t. But Jack, with whom there is a stark and tense silence on all levels of communication, real or electronic, decides to comment that an uninformed or coerced vote is worse than no vote at all and yadda yadda yadda.

People. You’ve been reading my political stuff for ages. Do I go in for uninformed or coerced votes?

I think I heard a “no.”

And Jack knows that. But Jack uses “I’m not informed enough” as an excuse not to vote, despite the fact that he is very, very well disposed to information that he simply refuses to consume. In the ten years before the most recent shananigans, it was, believe it or not, the only thing we have ever argued about. And now he’s going to say it under my patriotically chest-stirring words of inspiration and profundity? To irk me, under the guise of reasoned discourse?

The man’s fear of commitment, unbelievably, extends even to political races, and his cowardice in conversation, to the internet.

Amazing.

Being strong and smart is so damned exhausting. I know that sounds gross, but it’s true. I’m tired. Someone carry me? Please?

Empowerment ahead. Somewhere. No, really, I’m sure of it. I might even take my coat off when I get there.
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Say, I’m on Twitter now. Follow over yonder on the right. The bird button. Do it. I’m lonely.

Bloomington_Indiana

Back Home Again

Indiana is flat.

Flat, like, the flattest table you’ve ever seen kind of flat. You could put a pencil down and it wouldn’t move for centuries, but for the wind that blows straight on through because there’s nothing to stop it.

Flat as this map.

I spent 15 years in the midwest, but now that I’ve been “back east” for 10, I’m always surprised when I see just how flat it is there. When the plane approaches the airport in my former homes of Columbus or Indianapolis, the downtown buildings stand up like Lego structures on a plywood board covered with that green stuff that’s supposed to look like grass in architectural models.

You can see to Kansas from these places. You can smell a dinner that’s cooking the next town over.

I went to Indy to visit my godson. And his parents, who are still obligated to live with him, since he’s not quite two and a half. His father and I went to high school together. Happily, we are friends who have changed toward each other instead of away from each other since we left the halls of our Catholic (but impressively forward-thinking) school. By this I mean that most of our beloved friends got more conservative, more religiously indoctrinated, less likely to explore the world beyond Indiana’s borders. Matt and Jeannie thought differently, believed differently (though no more or less deeply) and eloped to Canada. They’re something other than Republican. If all my friends are the incomparable John Mellencamp (except I’ve just compared him to my friends), Matt and Jeannie are Springsteen. Humble roots, happy to claim the small town, but born to run.

And they’re raising this dynamite little guy. I call him Boy Wonder, because Jeannie had a lot of reproductive issues and all understandings were that children weren’t possible. She was 39 when she found out she was 20 weeks pregnant, and that kid doesn’t have a single problem except that he has no butt to hold up his pants. Also, he’s a damned genius. Which actually might be a problem – his mother and I are debating that. At just shy of two and a half, the child can hold an entire conversation without once misunderstanding so much as an idiom. Verbal? Verbal doesn’t begin to describe it. The lisp is the only thing that makes one realize he’s not walking around with a grown-up brain in his little head.

We figure that’s down to Jeannie, because Matt frankly is more of the Grunt and Stomp method of communication. He frequently speaks Cave Man to drive that point home.

Also? Boy Wonder never throws fits.

Ever.

Matt and Jeannie think he’s melting down if he gets a teensy bit whiny. And by “a teensy bit,” I mean it lasts about a sentence, they speak to him and he immediately becomes completely amenable to whatever they suggest.

It made my 48 hours at their house much, much easier than it would be if he were a normal toddler.

And I really like the little town they’re in, outside of the state capital. It has a charming “downtown” full of old brick buildings. There’s a fantastic coffee shop Jeannie frequents where they know her and Boy Wonder intimately and their photos are on the walls. There are trunk sales at the little shops and the owners tell Jeannie to come early. They know their neighbors, and, more than that, they know the folks who live three streets over and a block down. And everyone lives in fantastic old Victorians with wrap-around porches – not showy, just well-kept. Nothing cookie-cutter, and few of the squat, bland ranchers I find so depressing, which are so prevalent in that part of the country.

I think there’s something very sweet about what I find to be a very simple life. It’s unflaggingly virtuous and honest and unassuming and unpretentious. It’s about home and family and staying close to where you came from. It seems people are happy, or at least not so unctuous as to complain.

But it’s not for me.

I found myself wondering, as I stared out their kitchen window on a typical Indiana morning, who I would have become if I had not left the midwest. If I had not moved back east with my family for my senior year of high school, I might not have chosen my career path, which has been anything but boring. If I had not moved back east after six years in Ohio for college and work, I might still be there, looking out across an unbroken plain under rolling gray skies and wondering where it met its edge. I might be married with three children, trying to keep up a home while my husband drove a truck or surveyed roads or worked at the corporate bank office. I might be plump on the steady midwestern diet that’s heavy on carbs, turning my words with a bit of a twang and never even thinking of the things that occupy my mind in my place in the world.

Or I might be restless, frustrated by something I understood within myself just enough to know that I did not belong in this place, that I should find the spot far away and perhaps beyond my imagining where I could more naturally grow to be who I was meant to be.

Oh, how I have changed. Of all our friends from all those years ago, I have changed the most. Ten years ago, I was much more like them, but my life led me to different places, different experiences, a hometown I made for myself rather than stayed in, unquestioning, since childhood. And while I love all those friends, and I smile at their happiness and content life, I know I could not live it. As much as I had grown to love the midwest after all those years, and as hard as it was to leave at 17, I believe I was meant to go.

As my plane approached the East Coast city I call my home, the endless patchwork of unvaried land had given way to a topography that felt warm and lush. I saw my place in the world laid out below me with hills and valleys and waterways and dense woods, changes in light and inconsistencies in terrain. It occured to me that my plane left a land of steady people whose lives never waver and traveled home to a land where the people move in jagged lines and the earth throws curves.

With warm memories of a former, more constant life, I touched down where I belong.