We've had quite a few changes here lately, the biggest one being that Herb started a new job a little over an hour away from home and is living in a corporate apartment there during the week. I think that happened in the first week of December. With Christmas and company, I didn't get over to visit and see the new digs until last week.
I really liked the apartment, a cute little one-bedroom on the first floor with its own washer and dryer. It came furnished. The main living area features a couch, a chair, an end table, a coffee table, a TV, and a dinette. One lamp stands on the end table.
There is one small, square picture on the wall above the chair and lots and lots of bare white walls.
In the kitchen, there are plenty of cabinets, most of them empty, even though the pots, pans, dishes, glassware, and silverware are furnished as well.
What a stark contrast to our house!
At first I was a bit unsettled by the bareness. I made the bed. I washed and dried three loads of clothes and towels, each one of them tiny. I folded the towels and hung up the clothes. I wiped the coffee dribbles off the counter in front of the coffee maker. I cleaned up some dead ants in the pantry that Herb had poisoned the night before, and I put the food items back on the shelf. I peered into every cabinet, every drawer, and every closet, looking for something to do. The maid had come the day before. There was nothing else to do. I opened the blinds. Finally, I grabbed the car keys and went for a drive. I got the car washed.
My second day there, however, I could feel myself digging in, or maybe it was more of a hooking up, like in life support. No, it was more like soaking in a hot epsom salts bath and feeling your cares lift with the steam and sensing that your body is releasing really nasty toxins through the soles of your feet. The bare walls and empty surfaces sucked out all my brain clutter. I was supposed to leave that morning, but I lingered. I lingered heavily on the couch. I studied the walls as if they were fine art. No sound. Once in a while the heat came on or the refrigerator compressor hummed. As the temperature rose, I occasionally would hear a pop from the metal staircase outside the door. I forced myself to go out and eat lunch. While I ate, I thought about the apartment. I drove straight back there, passing up myriads of shopping opportunities that I normally would have to drive 30 minutes to reach. The couch and the magical white walls, the clean, bare surfaces of the tables and countertops, they beckoned me. And I succumbed.
At 3:00, I texted Herb. "I'm still here," I said.
At 5:00 he arrived, raring to pack up and go home. I said, "Let's go in the morning."
The incredulous look on his face snapped me back to reality, and I grabbed my overnight bag. My spa treatment was over. Goodbye, bare walls! Farewell, empty tabletops! I drove west into the sun, back to my messy house with his stuff, her stuff, my stuff, everybody's stuff stuff--the stacks of books, piles of papers, overstuffed cabinets, the muddy boots by the door, the stray ball of yarn, the chicken-pooped sidewalks. Back to the gaily-decorated Christmas tree, the lovely Nativity scenes, and the pathetically-withered poinsettias. Yes, still there. Back to my busy, happy, cluttered life with all its joys and cares.