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René Richard: Bivouac (date unknown)
"I've probably survived worse before."

The Great Refurbishment turned what might have been our home into a Bivouac, more of an encampment than a dwelling, a transitional place. We're still not hardly moved in after seven long months of pseudo-habitation with boxes being our primary companion. I long ago stopped wondering where my possessions were, trading in a level of frustration for a ration of faith that they're there somewhere and that we'll one day—not today and probably not tomorrow, but someday—be reunited. Until then, I've taken to living with the subset of my possessions that I have thus far uncovered and stopped fretting about the others. They belong to the great mystery, a constant companion but nothing really worth fussing after. The Muse and I are, in the mean time (which some days seems heartlessly mean) "making do." I would not wish our transitional lifestyle upon anyone. It's brutal.

I'm from a family that had to put everything in order before we could leave for longer than a day.
A long weekend necessitated making the old place ship shape before we left, which meant vacuuming, mowing, dusting, leaving no laundry undone and none unfolded. In our current Bivouac state, we never come close to achieving that kind of closure. The thin film of dust seems permanent. Each room remains in seemingly perpetual disarray, so as I pack to leave for a long weekend, I do so without knowing how to pull this off. The Bivouac shows my sloth, or certainly seems to. My excuses that I've been focused upon refurbishing rather than maintaining holds no water in my value system. I feel dirty, as if I was cheating. I'm seriously thinking of calling in sick for this little side trip, at least until I have someplace to come back home to again, and not to just this damned Bivouac.

Fall seems the most aptly named season. It quite literally falls: temperature then leaves then the damned Maple tree helicopters then rain. None of it seems very uplifting. The edges and borders nurtured over spring and summer start losing their cover, exposing while also almost smothering the place in change. The shift reminds me to take smaller steps. I suspect that over the next few weeks, my whole world will become a Bivouac for the duration of Winter, not restored to fully habitable until Spring pops up again to start refurbishing.

The Muse bought concert tickets and insisted that I'll enjoy myself, though the last concert we attended together I spent with my hands over my ear plugs, eyes closed, and wincing in amplified agony for over two hours. That one was outside, before The Damned Pandemic, and an artist I didn't know or care for. This one promises two of my favorites but I've learned through long experience that seeing a favorite in concert can easily turn into another ordeal as concert performances tend to be rougher and less precise, often trying to the ear. I never caught on to the concert form. One buys a ticket, a very short-term lease on a seat in an audience, a definite Bivouac of a place, exposed and uncovered, usually mid-aisle somewhere so you're cornered in there. Once the performance starts, you're stuck for the duration. If the show sucks, you're still stuck. If it's way too loud, as it usually is, cram in those ear plugs, close your eyes, and mumble a protective mantra. The ordeal will eventually end and in a week or two or three or four you might forget how it felt to be stranded there, under assault by way of senses, terrified, defenseless.

This world seems to deliver reinforcements. If you're in a Bivouac, Fall will come and maybe bring an invitation to a concert you can't reject however much you'd like to. Allegories tend to expand to fill the space at hand. Uncertain of the meaning, their presence certainly fills the senses threatening to leave me feeling senseless. Sometimes it all seems so hollow. Even today seems very far away. Tomorrow seems an infinite distance. There's little here to gain traction with at this moment. I will move bravely, or bravely enough. I will take a break from this Grand Refurbishment, this sweet obsession, to visit my sons and the grandkids, though our favorite restaurant there burned to the ground in our absence. I'll take in that concert and I will pack my ear plugs. I've probably survived worse before.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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