to nest or not to nest

12 10 2009

brdFour months ago, while in LA working with Shop Girl, I snapped this picture of a beautifully painted four panel screen hidden in a corner of Evan’s loft/studio.  Four months ago.  Lots has happened since then – most notably Best Boy’s own flight to LA two months ago.

Empty nest.  What does that look like?  So far not what I had expected.  I have dreams of purging and organizing and getting my basement to look like Billy’s looks now.  But it’s only been a week or so since I could check THAT task off my list and I’m a little short in the energy department yet.  It will come – I can feel it building steam.  In the time I’ve had to this point, it means that I can occupy the couch whenever I want but rarely have control of the remote.  See, Best Boy got the Dr. a fat daddy plasma for Father’s Day a few years ago but until he left for LA, the Dr. never pushed for control of the remote.  Now he is sole remote control guy.  Trust me – that is OK by me – as long as I have my computer since anything I want to see can be caught on

It got a little dicey during the latter part of last week when something was up with the internet and our connection to the outside world came to a screeching halt.  It wasn’t pretty around here.  Being self-employed and working from home gets nasty when there is no way to use the computers. Gratefully the stars aligned on Saturday afternoon – a repair man worked his magic and we are back on line.

As the Dr. channel surfed between three different college football games and the President’s Cup golf tournament, I caught up with the blogs I usually follow.  One of my favorite’s is Sweet Juniper! -a lawyer who walked away from his profession about three years ago to become a SAHD (stay-at-home-dad).  His post on the 8th was a reflection of something I’ve spent most of my life thinking about.

I get facebook updates, emails and twitters from friends of mine who are busy doing things that I THOUGHT I would be involved in at this point of my life…but I’m not.  There are days when I can’t even follow some of the goings on because my psyche is too fragile and it gets to me.  I stay away until the waves of jealousy pass like a hot flash in the night.  I get a grip and remember who I am and what I’ve been given to do and NOT do in my lifetime.

As we sit here waiting for a phone call that will change our lives yet again with the start of another new generation, it’s good for me to stop and revisit what I would have done differently to get to where I am today.  And truthfully, the answer I come up with is nothing…I’d change nothing.  Shop Girl and I were having a discussion yesterday about all the places we’ve lived – all the rentals – all the begged and borrowed furniture – all the spaces we’ve called “home” and what a challenge it was to pretend to put down roots in each space.

What have I done in the last 25 plus years?  I’ve been a nester.  That’s been my job – my goal – my main purpose.  Keeping this family grounded enough to function when there has been little or no stability in the typical sense of the word.  Ours has been an unlikely adventure…one that I certainly didn’t foresee.

Nesting.  Where it all began was in a little rental down the street from where we presently live that I remember that strong primal urge to clean everything in sight 29 years ago just before giving birth to Best Boy.  That was probably the last time in my life I really cleaned like that. Now, it’s Shop Girl’s turn as she awaits whatever day is going to be the Awaited One’s birthday.

So if the nesting instinct is what rages through a woman’s just before birth, what happens at the other end of that maternal timeline when things slow down?  What’s the opposite of nesting?

For some  it is when they downsize – buy that condo – travel the world…do what they want to do after years of being tethered.  Others just re-invent themselves and grandparenting becomes the new norm.  There are NO retirement plans here – there is no pension in the Dr.’s line of work so we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing till we drop or get kicked to the curb.  For now, mine looks like a mix of tending to the Mrs.’ nest a while longer, purging mine of years of accumulated journey junk and beginning the new twist of grandparenting.  Best Boy and Mimi give me the excuse of being THAT grandmother who jet-sets to LA whenever she can.  There is already more studio time booked in late January…baby in tow…to finish up Shop Girl’s album.

I won’t be interviewed on the Today’s show any time soon.  There are no book tours planned.  I’ll not be in your neighborhood bookstore doing any readings.  Terry Gross won’t be asking me to sit in for her while she’s away.  Nope – none of that.  My life is extremely rich just as it is.  I am fulfilled being just who I am.  I will just keep my feathers from being ruffled and do what is at hand and see where this portion of the migratory flight plan leads me.

empty nest

2 09 2008

Fox News – CNN – the Weather Channel – MSNBC all have enough to report today to keep her glued to her chair…just where she needs to be.  Well actually she’s moved over to his chair – but that is good.  A phone call from one of her oldest friends in California who just had to have her husband taken to an Alzheimers residential facility makes us grateful – even now.  The things we aren’t facing giving us some strange consolation.  Lunch glued to the tube – then a nap for an hour and a half…followed by a “Jon and Kate Plus 8” marathon.Even watching this is something that couldn’t be done just a few weeks ago.  It was too much visual/audio stimulation.

Later in the afternoon a visit to a friend in the hospital that couldn’t come to the funeral.  A quick dinner at Culver’s with no napkins to go, no extra ketchup or mustard packets to put in the fidge at home. Going and doing with one instead of two is quite the change.  

This is life – it keeps rolling.  Everyone that was here for the events of the last few weeks are settled back snug as bugs in a rug in their own beds.  I can’t help but look at the clock and think back to what I would have been doing at this time of the day just a month ago.  Late afternoons were the worst – no matter how easy the day had been.  Multiple times a day she mentions how relieved she is that he’s not suffering any more.

She thinks through possibilities of re-purposing spaces in the house – little projects long forgotten because she picked her battles wisely. The apple cart was so delicate – one dared not upset it.   In random conversations she mentions social outings that she is putting on her calendar. She won’t have to worry about coming home in the dark to find him sitting outside in the rain with a flashlight waiting for her to come home…the storm had frightened him and he was anxious for her to get home.  With each passing day it seems like she gets “lighter”.  These declining years were heavy.  She carried it more than I’ll ever know.  

We talked about one of my dad’s best friends who’s wife came to the wake alone – she can’t take him out any more.  She was glad that is all over for Billy.  She wondered if he was playing softball up there – no shortness of breath, flashing that grin, cracking jokes, knowing everyone’s names and of course able to run the bases after hitting a solid line drive. There will be good days and sad days there will be life in the empty nest.