A home of one's own, Part I.

house 17For someone who grew up in the Bicycling Fish days of feminism, I have pedaled a surprising number of miles. Don't get me wrong: as any of my friends from as far back as Montessori will tell you, I've always been an independent cuss, happier playing on my own than with others, refusing assistance to a fault (you don't end up in the hospital for 11 days with 104ºF fever and bloody intestines because you're smart about asking for help). house 7But independence is a funny thing. It's not just about things like making your own way (which I do) or buying your own place (which I have); it's about doing them in the right way, in the right time and with the right spirit. Too often in my past I did great things for lousy reasons. I threw myself into series of jobs I only sort of liked, turning them into a career I definitely didn't like, all to prove...what? That I was capable? That I was extraordinary? And to whom? A nameless, faceless crowd of People who, let's face it, couldn't really give a rat's patootie about my next big advertising move.

house 62Likewise, while it shames me deeply, I've spent far too much time and energy looking for relationships, being in relationships, contorting myself to fit in outdated relationships than I have on my relationship with myself. Not just primary relationships, either, it was just as important to win the approval of a parent or a friend or the mail carrier as it was that of a lover. Even while I recognized this was not perhaps the most salubrious way to waltz through life, I couldn't stop myself: I had to exhaust myself. After 41 years of running, I collapsed. Fortunately, that time I not only let go and let God (or whomever, as I like to say), I let go of everything and I let everybody.

So many wonderful things have come out of the great good fortune of getting sick. I slowed down, for one; really, I had no other choice. I gained an acute appreciation for everything, and I do mean everything, in my life. Fundamentally, I learned to see and experience things in a different way, from the inside out rather than the backasswards way I'd been doing it for so many years.

house 82And remarkably, things began to shift. I was more grateful for less money. My burning desire to Make It As An Actress turned into a profound respect for the ground I had already gained, and then to a respect for the person (um, me) who'd gained it, and then to a total falling away of all the (wrong) reasons I'd lusted after success, money, fame, validation, and yes, love, leaving just this pure but fiercely burning desire to speak my Truth. And my yearning to be in a primary relationship sort of faded away, bit by bit, until I realized that what I really wanted was authentic connection, period, with myself, with my friends, with the mail carrier. My real longing was for home; the "whom" was almost beside the point. (Sex was not, but that's another post for another day.)

house 4Which brings me back around to the title of this rather long-winded rant (with apologies to Virginia Woolf). For too long, I shunned the idea of home as just so much attachment, a waste of time, money and energy. I lived in a series of shitholes I was only too happy to turn the key on in the morning. When I finally bought a place, I did it for Investment Purposes and for the partner who would surely materialize to join me there (he did). When I lived with S.O.s, I furnished (or not) to please them; when they moved out or I moved on, I kept only what was necessary to get by.

This past year, as part of my odyssey of self-discovery, I finally explored the last frontier. I bought a real couch. I took a weekend and painted my (rental) apartment. I took a sewing class and made curtains. I bought a piece of art, my first in over 15 years. I made my place the way I wanted to make it, for no one else but me. For the first time in my life, it's truly an expression of myself: it's my truth, writ in red and yellow and odd eclectic furnishings. I feel as at home in my home as I do in my own skin, and it all feels wonderful.

The funniest part? Everyone else likes it better, too.

xxx c