My arms and legs are now positively spotted like some cat of the Serengeti, though my unusual coloring is the result of bruises rather than the need for camouflage. Last Thursday was an unending hell of lifting and carrying more furniture and boxes and trash bags than I believed could possibly fit into the 500 square feet that I was permanently moving out of. Given that I won’t be starting my menial summer job until next week (god willing), our new house has managed to unpack itself and turn itself aright rather quickly; one thing I cannot tolerate in my life is idleness, so my days have been filled with cleaning and arranging those small items that somehow, when combined, constitute home.
My dive into domesticity here has once again jumbled the state of affairs in my mind. You see, normally my thoughts inhabit one of two mutually exclusive spheres to maintain a shaky cease-fire between two possible lives. One sphere sits firm in the foundational knowledge that this relationship of mine is ultimately doomed. Mark and I simply want different things out of life, and it will be eventually necessary to sacrifice him (and a part of myself) to achieve the adventures I crave. All of my long-term thoughts about my life are colored by this sad but inevitable truth. The other sphere grows from the knowledge that living here with the man I think I love makes me happy. Anything pertaining to the short term rests comfortably within this realm. These two incompatible mind frames have sat and functioned uneasy but inert, side by side in my mind since I returned to Denver last November with the goal of continuing our relationship for however long it could be maintained.
And yet, while embodying the ultimate housewife this week as I furnished this once empty space with all the comforts of home, my long-term thoughts began displacing themselves into the short-term sphere. It has struck me that, in essence, I could live this very same day for the rest of my life if I choose to. I could become the housewife, cleaning and arranging and gardening and watching the empty wasteland of daytime television to fill the silence well into old age. Comfortably numb, to borrow and old phrase. In fact, the longer I stay here, the more likely that is to happen. At the thought of this my mind freezes into the dumb inactivity of terror.
And yet, despite myself, there was a moment of confusion and complication last night. Thunderstorms and tornado warnings have been rolling their way across the north-eastern part of Colorado for the past two days, utterly confusing and frightening me, as I have no idea of the behavior patterns of tornados, let alone what I should do if such a situation would arise. Luckily, the Denver area has seen nothing more severe than rain and hail. Last night, a slow, steady storm sat over our new house for the duration of the night, delivering the kind of constant, rumbling thunder that becomes a comforting, James Earl Jones-esque presence in the room, as opposed to the loud, crashing thunder which takes on a more staccato, Gilbert Godfried tone. We were both laying on our new mattress beneath an old feather-comforter, simply watching the distant flicker of lightning and listening to the symphony of rain and thunder. My only thought was, why does life have to mean any more than this? What’s so wrong with letting this kind of comfort be your existence?
The shocking truth, which descended upon me in the brief pauses between the tympani thunder, is that this kind of life—one where you live simply with the goal of comfort, stability, and an accepted place in our society of affluence—isn’t as horrific as I thought. While it appears empty and void of any true meaning, it can actually feel downright lovely sometimes.
I do not want to don the blinders, worn by so many Americans, which hide from us the great adventure of the world at large. And yet, it is so easy to picture myself getting seduced into that kind of life if I let my guard down here. That possibility shoots ice-cold dread into my heart and rattles me more than any Midwest twister ever could.