Rendered Fat Content


Gosta Adrian-Nilsson: Shadows, twilight (1929)
" … finally coming back into focus."

The Muse insisted upon cleaning up what would become my office. After refurbishing, it was shrouded with a thick patina of dust, first from my removing the ancient wall-to-wall carpeting, then from sanding woodwork, wall, and ceiling patches. The room, before refurbishing and just after, had served as a warehouse for displaced stuff from every other room on the floor, so even the fresh flooring was spattered with spots of spackle, sawdust, and paint. She bravely waded into the mess and I disappeared myself down into the kitchen to set a pot roast braising. I gave her a good hour, perhaps a little less, until after I'd heard both vacuums start and stop and a long silent period probably signifying mopping up. She'd cleared that table I'd used as a catchall during the work and seemed ready for some help shifting stuff. Bookshelves, which I'd stacked on their backs in the middle of the room to facilitate crown moulding and baseboard installation, needed dusting and fresh felt feet. The carpets they laid upon needed rolling and the rest of the room wanted vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping, too. I helped arrange stuff then played scarce again.

I realized that I was not so much moving in to this room, but StartingInto it.
I could not be moving in because we did that months ago. I could not be moving back in because the room had been fundamentally changed in the interim. What came before was no longer there to reinhabit. Neither was I starting over, for I had continued producing my writing through the lengthy displacement, working while hunched over a piano bench for the last few weeks. We slipped large felt disks beneath my desk's corners and slid it into place, centered before the four foot-wide double hung window which I'd so recently pulled to replace the glass, before the remarkably restored window frame appearing deceptively flawless in spite of its age. The rug The Muse never liked but I always loved will soon cover the center of the floor. My books, so long hidden in innumerable cluttering boxes, will soon sit in their accustomed places on their same old shelves. The view, which overlooks the very center of the universe will doubtless continue to inspire my presence here. We're just that much closer to home.

The Muse confided that she'd volunteered to clean out my office because that felt like home, like the home we aspired to return to but hadn't quite. We'd been moving so long that we doubted we could ever again sit still, then we came home and taunted ourselves by living here while refurbishing in place, a half-assed possession of a long-held obsession. We felt like wise fools for doing it that way. We understood, I suspect, that we needed to withhold the reward, that too much of it too soon might poison it for us. We could not simply slip back into a life we'd suspended more than a decade before. An arrival ritual was necessary and perfectly appropriate. What had once been withheld from us, we withheld from ourselves and set about improving it to the point where it became almost unrecognizable. While before, we'd accepted this house more or less as we found it. Now, we reinhabit in on our terms, not just its'. We will live here now because this place belongs to us. We will have earned it back.

Curious how familiar a fresh space can feel. I accept that the location remains unchanged, but the interior, now a Mindful Gray, has not seen better days in a hundred years, if then. This room might be better than original now, with a fine ceiling fan and forced air heating and cooling, fine solid brass door knobs, and soft, acoustically muting flooring. This room will become my studio. My space within this vast house, a space I've lacked since we got back. I have not even opened my guitar case since we returned for the house seemed to lack a place to play it's contents. These final few weeks have felt the most torturous. Short bed, no doors, workmen swarming, no privacy. For this introvert, the extended public display proved exhausting, almost debilitating. I had no place to retreat into, no place to recharge my beleaguered batteries, no place to even think, but now I'm StartingInto.

What can I say about a spouse who volunteers to clean out such a space, to at least get the StartingInto process started? She needed to get this started, for she's been displaced here just as much as I have been, perhaps even more. She's been spending her long workdays in the basement in a room with a tiny rectangle of a window and little else. Her office awaits our carpenter mending her desk, which I managed to break when removing carpet. I've replaced the doors and fitted them tight. She finished her evening by cleaning out that room before heading back to the hide-a-bed in the basement and leaving me to the inflatable, which she dislikes, in the master bedroom for the night. Molly the cat consented to stay with me, purring contentedly beside me, perhaps recognizing that her world, too, so long a jumble, might also finally be coming back into focus.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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