Though I'm closer than ever to moving from here after thirteen years, my current home is not yet for sale. No, it's my very first ever house that is for sale. Up for grabs. Positioned to transfer / lose / create more history.
This place marked the real beginning of my Creative Loner Life. For the most part at both colleges and during my internship I managed to live alone, or to tactfully and successfully manipulate circumstances to that end if the direction and angle at which they were leaning weren't severe enough (as in, horizontal). When I needed to officially leave home, moving to an apartment was completely out of the question. Moving into this place was deliberate and liberating, a choice made from excited trepidation instead of how-will-I-#$%*!?-survive ominousness. A place for which I was entirely responsible as much as a renter can be. A little cabin at the end of a cul-de-sac in an area I had always loved by the river. It was a dream come true for this my-head-needs-space introverted I'm-in-denial-of-how-much-I-dislike-the-Expected-Life girl of 23-ish years. Yes, girl.
The listing says it needs updated and offers no pictures of the inside. This must mean the kitchen is the same white I painted it with the landlord's reluctant permission 18 years ago. That the geometric no-pile carpet in the kitchen remains, that aluminum-bordered single pane windows still look out on the flower beds in which I planted hosta, zinnia, allium, and a variety of annuals. Yep, there are the iris and hosta in the side and front beds, near the steps down which I toddled the harp when I first started gigging with all the do-I-have-the-right professional sincerity I could muster at the time.
It must mean that there are still spray paint marks on the basement floor near the water softener where I experimented with creative entrepreneurial surely-this-will-liberate-me-from-Corproate projects. It must mean that you still can't help but run into the shower door when you use the toilet, that the wood paneling still graces the walls in the oddly long and narrow split-down-the-center living area, that the "guest room" is still the brightest space in all of the house's 792 square feet.
My house of Firsts. It saw me agree to a part-time and then full-time job in human resources at a healthcare hub, and move into payroll and accounts payable for the stability and benefits. A world of money and math and unhappy managers, processors, tele-somethings, smoke-break takers and hall-wanderers in which I managed to not be managed in the most inconspicuous way.
Then it saw me move into another job with bigger payroll and accounting responsibilities where I dismantled and reconstructed databases and oversaw and administered the transfer of millions and billions of dollars while .0000000x% of that eventually, dutifully, and disdainfully appeared in my own paycheck. After office hours (whoops, also during), I explored pretty much non-existent music therapy positions in the area -- oh yes I did interview at a penitentiary, or what do they politically-correctly call them now? -- started my teaching studio as I invited 6 to 60+-year-olds to trudge up the steps and sit at my used spinet and/or console piano, moved unfinished meant-for-your-wedding paintings around the house, collected and loudly listened to obscurely non-classical anthemic classic/progressive rock (music is absolutely why you get a house and not a place with shared walls), and wondered aloud to myself and in my journal about why I didn't feel more hopeful, free, artistic, creative, and happy in a way I craved and thought I'd finally earned.
It was where I trudged around the Mt Air neighborhood at all hours silently asking and not always answering persistent nagging questions (Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy??), a place where I both literally and metaphorically bled in the most profound way a female can.
It was a messy horrific boundary-crossing relationship time. I took refuge in a too-big and mostly empty bedroom that shared a wall with the noisy washer and dryer. I filled journals and sometimes spent entire days not moving. Through the diamond-window front door I brought leftover veggie pizza and almost-stale cake or donuts from the office if I hadn't eaten it all in a semi-rage on the way home. I scrupulously managed my checkbook on a white and wood barstool set from Meijer I assembled myself.
I cringed silently as I heard a massive tree falling in the night, wondering if I should run - where??? I heard it creaking, tearing its own and other limbs on its way down, ripping and gripping as gravity won. Is this how I die, I wondered. No. It only decided to clip the edge of the house and fall in neat heavy pieces around every single panel of my new Volvo wagon of three months that on that night I had not bothered to park in the under-the-house garage.
That house is for sale. My landlord, a retired high-baller businessman and relative of Rush Limbaugh who listened to the famed show at high volume in his garage while yelling out his own acerbic commentary, was a curmudgeony man with whom I had nothing in common. He told me I was one of the few that could get him to smile. He watched over and looked out for me, often in ways he had no business doing and every right to do. He built the wraparound deck for me, broke his own no-pet rule by allowing me to take in a won't-see-me-for-years-but-I'll-eat-all-your-ferns cat, and marveled at both my purposeful and willy-nilly perennial (or not) plantlife. I met his dying wife, saw him involuntarily fitfully cry, watched him hobble across the yard after he painstakingly mowed and trimmed and fussed and fumed over what he could control and what he couldn't.
We were a pair. He didn't approve of my few boyfriends and now I know why. He told me I was from "good stock" when he met my mother and handed me a handwritten lease I signed and dated on the spot.
I left that place years later for a guy who not long after, left me. (It's okay - he's married with kids now). I went on to try to re-create Refuge on the great endless rolling landscape of No Guarantees.
I both miss you and don't, 868 Edgecliff (Cedar), 43235. How you held and shaped me, little almost-private crouching hilltop brown box with streaming southern window light and huge tree shadow silence. As with every single life experience, at the time you were exactly what I needed. I wonder, where will we go now?
Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
Trista Hill is a professional harpist and fine artist, creativity coach, educator in the arts, and Board-Certified Music Therapist. What her formal degrees in music and art gave her pale in comparsion to the gifts she's experienced in working with creatives just like you. Visit her website — tristahill.com — for links to her blog, performances, and other fantastical creative offerings.