Rendered Fat Content


I have no idea if I’ll ever live in this house again, this place we called home, the one we labeled The Villa Vatta Schmaltz because we felt as though we’d fallen into a vat of Schmaltz when we found it. Or was it that this house found us? This was no mere investment property. We did not even think about potential ROI. I’d never made a penny in real estate, perhaps because I’d never considered real estate investment-grade. One should never, according to my ethics, invest in anything as personal and sacred as a home. One moves because one’s moved. ROI sours the well.

Well, circumstances being what they became, we could no longer live here, though we retained the usual sense of responsibility associated with any real home. From three thousand miles away, we’ve had some difficulties overseeing or even very significantly influencing much that happens here. The place has a life of its own in our absence. We play catch-up with either an abstract ideal or a deeply-seated responsibility whenever we come back.

It’s been going on six years since we actually stayed in the house. We’ve repainted it, replaced the HVAC systems, and are now reworking the yard, even taking down that disfiguring tree in the back while over-nighting at my brother’s place across town. Any observer could be excused for believing ourselves insane for engaging in all this uncompensated effort, some of which might distantly qualify as work. It’s more like love laboring for what love has always labored for. Not for some expected future return or to mitigate imagined risks, but to nurture life itself.

As a renter, I find intolerable the absence of nurture-needing ground. Sure, I mow and weed and even root out the odd stump on the rental property, but it’s not a loving engagement as much as an obligatory one. We need each other without ever falling in love. The neighbors comment that the place sure looks better than when the owners were there, but I’m pantomiming love rather than loving when I groom that lawn and rid the place of weeds. I find little future in those small acts of obligation. I must engage in some relationship with some dirt, though my beloved rests far, far away, under the care of folks, however well-intended, unable to care as would; as I do.

It’s all part of the deal,” my Dad used to confide when I’d fail to explain how overly responsible he could sometimes be. He felt what I feel, I suppose, a responsibility transcending obligation. One cares for what one loves, regardless of the price paid. I could no more flee from my promise to this place than I could flee from my skin. I make no distinction. Can’t.

I have no idea whether we’ll ever call this place our home again, but I sweat the details here like I sweat no other details in my life. I see what it needs and simply set to satisfying them; not as an act of sacrifice but one of true communion and actual connection. I live with the rental on the East coast. I feel alive here.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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