The house is calm. It’s blue, a corner house, in a historic neighborhood, in an almost mid-Atlantic city, the least southern of the southern states. But southern. The rain is coming down, as it has for days, in a steady, cold mop.
This is a well circumscribed era, and in this era, I have what I love and most want to protect around me every day. The pandemic has brought my world smaller but more concise. Trauma is a rumble on the highway far enough in the distance it sounds like a departing memory. But COVID has a horizon line too. As the vaccine rolls out and the new president takes action, thoughts of a future rise to consciousness.
This house is cozy but it’s a rental and was supposed to be a temporary solution in a city I never ever planned on living in. Since I was here, I chose the house for the historic neighborhood, nice neighbor families, and high ceilings but with its one bathroom, no home office, and only two bedrooms, it’s better suited for a stage play than a place to take root and raise kids.
Thoughts of ‘future’ have started to rise to consciousness.
In April 2019 I had a plan to move to the Hudson Valley. Then my dad died and by June, I’d given into a different, easier choice that landed me here, in this blue house, in an interesting job role, in an entrenched moment in history surrounded by arts and crafts cottages and good neighbors. That’s just one of many unexpected turns in my life. Ones we all have. I am forever fixated on these. I always reflect on the 2–4 steps that have taken me in a new direction, ones I would never ever have predicted. It informs a lot of my writing. To me, it’s one of the astounding things about life.
In the shower, I was thinking about the phrase “You never know.” People say that in response to someone’s desire to meet someone and fall in love. You never know who you’re going to meet, what will happen. In this era, there is no more ‘you never know’. You’re likely not going to meet someone unexpectedly at a conference or in a coffee shop. You won’t suddenly change jobs or meet a handsome stranger, or forge alliances organically through everyday interactions at an office.
In this era, we do know what are day looks like, what our life looks like day to day as we live in the day to day. No in the you never know. But there is one thing none of us knows. How our body might fail. Brain aneurysms. Heart attacks. COVID picking us to ravage. I rinsed those thoughts from my head with my conditioner. The best we can have right now is the status quo.
After I got out of the shower, I saw I had a text from my landlord’s wife. He was in the ICU. Not with COVID but something else. He has 2 kids barely in their 20s. He is relatively young and in constant motion. He always was outside mowing the grass or gathering leaves or hanging up my kids swing or fixing my door knob for the nth time because my kids had hung on it taking out the only measure of privacy I have in the world, or bringing by baked goods his wife made, but in the last few months I hadn’t seen him. I told myself winter, but I had a nagging bad feeling. I had just had the honor of being asked to contribute a family video birthday wish for his 60th. He’d made a significant impact to our stability since we’d been there so the tribute came easy. His well-being and his family’s weighs heavy on me today.
I like knowing my day and that its about work and dinner and movie nights with my kids. Especially since my ex showed up out of the blue, probably reading my Medium pieces after ‘liking’ me on a dating website, leaving stuff on my porch on Valentine’s Day including a valentine to my kid from his kid after months of calm. For me, athreat. It makes me think about how much I appreciate the status quo, the calm.
At the same time, it’s time to start looking at the future, considering a permanent home and big choices. Stay or go. Lay down roots. Uproot. Stay the same. And what each choice would mean 10, 20 years down the road with for all three of us. Meanwhile, as I dare contemplate uncoiling from my mollusk, maybe we’ll one day in fact return to ‘you never know.’ You never know.
This is all part of my The 100 Day Project though I will now not type up every freehand write in Medium because I’m writing a novel and I’m not ready to share the narrative but I’ll work on scenes and feelings as abstractly as possible here from time to time.