Sunday, June 6, 2010

nesting

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Laundry's in, kitchen is clean; the ginger cookie recipe (for the upcoming company bake sale) is out on the counter for whichever spare moment I manage to find this coming week. I'm sitting in my hallway, laptop in its named spot, while Jill Paquette sings through my speakers at just the right volume. Aside from the music on my knees and the laundry spinning above my shoulders, the house is quiet. For the first time in a long while, I feel like I have actual space around me. Sure, my frantic calendar has left my house in an odd sort of shamble - halfway to tidy, as if someone got kidnapped in the middle of cleaning up - and The Coming Week looms like it usually does: full, brimming, bending the scales of what one person should normally try to accomplish in seven days' time. But right now it's only Sunday, and right now The Coming Week isn't here yet, and my head and heart are quiet enough to hear themselves breathing. It's nice.

When I stop like this, I'm usually not surprised by what I hear my heartbeat saying; the thoughts I come across in quiet moments are the thoughts I push away the rest of the time - so I know they're coming. Tonight there's one word sitting on my tongue. The word is nesting.

Nesting, for those that aren't aware, is a term that's often applied to newlyweds or new mothers or new homeowners. It's what you do after the big change: you nest. You settle into the space around you, shuffling the furniture and filling the shelves and cleaning the cupboards. To nest is to make the place your own. To nest is to prepare your own version of a safe landing; for you, for your family, for your soul.

This term, this concept of nesting, is something I've mulled over before. I usually pop it back into the "to think about later" drawer, though, simply because it's a bit of an uncertain topic for me; to think about it requires me to pull out years' worth of factoids and documents, journal entries and daydreams. And like a few other things I've come across, I don't really have a solid footing on this one - so it's easier to leave it unattended.

In all the times I've moved (and there've been a lot of moves), I've never really settled. I've never had to; I always knew the end of my stay was coming soon enough that I could leave those boxes unpacked and that drawer in disarray. My furniture has always been of the give-away variety, and I've never minded. The smaller and crappier it is, the easier it is to let it go, or pick it up to move it when the time comes.

The problem with all of this is that I'm not sure it's my natural bent to stay so unattached to my surroundings. I'm a highly nostalgic individual with a preference for spaces I recognize; a homebody, I guess you could say. I have started to get a bit of the travel bug- but only if that trip is short enough that my home, upon my return, is still intact.

I've been living where I am now for a year and a half, which is the longest I've been anywhere in almost 10 years. But unlike the adventure-jumping days of my youth, I'm not looking for an end date. I don't want to move, I want to stay here. The desire to stay has made me want to settle, to shift the furniture and paint the walls. In other words, I find myself wanting to... nest. But nesting implies companionship, doesn't it? If I pick new accent colors, and no one's there to see it, did it really happen?

There's something so... misfitting... about cleaning a table set forever for one, or arranging the couches however I like it, knowing that it wouldn't really matter one way or the other. Sure, it pleases my OCD-like-tendencies to have the stuff of my life in well balanced order, and keeping my house clean keeps me from making an appearance on the next edition of Hoarders. But tonight, as I fuss over the spots in the kitchen sink and watch my laundry fill with suds, I can't help but marvel at the extent of my solitude.

I am completely exaggerating for the sake of this post, by the way. I have an awesome roommate. She will care if I move the couch.

What I mean, I guess, is that at the end of the day, when it comes right down to it, I am by myself - I'm alone enough to sleep when I want and eat when I want and come and go and leave when I want. To be honest, this is something that I'd always thought I'd mind - and yet, I don't. As I sit here and think about setting down physical roots (tentatively or not), I'm in a mild state of shock that I'm even considering it. Shouldn't I want some of the things I don't have before I'm happy with the things I do? Shouldn't I be aching to change every puzzle piece so I can fit one more in? Maybe. But I'm not quite there yet. The days I've gotten to live so far may look differently than I originally expected them to, but that doesn't mean I'd change one thing about the way they've gone.

So this is where I am: right in the middle of expectancy and contentment - at a perfect distance between dissatisfaction and bliss - and trying to nest here, too.

1 comment:

Colin and Evelyn said...

Ashley,
Firstly, if you're looking for a vacation Australia's nice.

I'm a nester. I think I realized how much of one I am after reading this. Evelyn and I are living in a place that we can't wait to get out of and yet I'm arranging things buying things that help make it feel more like a home. Loving the freshness of the bakery four doors down and to some degree enjoying the tiny room we spend most of our time in.

When we get home I would love for you to set that table for three or four if that door's open by then.

C.