“Home is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there”
“This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”
Friday, May 13, 2016 4:58 am
Thousand Oaks, California
Sooner or later, if you’re lucky enough, I guess you land, you find home again.
I got lucky.
I came home again.
The problem is I don’t like to leave.
I’m beginning to, but only, as I say, under duress.
I suppose that’s because it took quite some time to really come home, even long after I’d landed here with The Dude.
Is it just me, or are recovery years a lot like Dog Years?
We call it Peachtree Hill (“The Peach” for sort), our airy, spacious two-story town house style apartment. It’s just one of many apartments built in 1974, on 1/4 of a large city block. The complex is beautifully kept quads of emerald lawns, tall leafy trees, flowering, bushy plant lined walkways that wind through a half dozen buildings of multi-unit family dwellings like ours. Our complex is set in a neighborhood of really cool, old-school apartments built in the ’70’s, some like ours, forested, dark and shaded, while others have a distinctive mid-’60’s Mad Men look to them. Imagine apartments where a coterie of Pan-Am stewardi might have kept their closet of crisp blue, dry cleaned-uniforms on layovers or business men their on-the-side girlfriends. Though I doubt either as Thousand Oaks is the poster-child for conservative, sleepy bedroom hamlets. Incorporated as a city in 1965 and conceived as a master planned community for employees and their families of several large white-color industries, Thousand Oaks, and it’s Siamese sister neighborhood, Newbury Park, didn’t become suburban chic and fashionable until California’s housing boom of the early 2000’s, when my family and I moved out here.
It was actually more like an immigration for us. Without a Statue of Liberty or anything. Thousand Oaks was the tip California’s western universe. Up near Oregon’s border? It was where vacations began, somewhere near Santa Barbara (actually, that would be up the coast another 56 miles ) and just outside of San Francisco (I was another 392 miles due north mistaken).
Thousand Oaks turned out to be 14 miles from where we were living in Woodland Hills. (embarrassing).
And a really pretty place too, nestled up against the Santa Monica Mountains, and with an exceedingly lowered population, a safe, family-oriented environment and best of all, excellent schools. The ideal place to raise a family. As a wife and mother of three with exactly that to do, I was all in.
But, as I have documented on this blog, once that came to a screeching halt and despite several attempts to secure a future here in Thousand Oaks, three, in the neighboring and decomposing San Fernando Valley of my youth and one gigantic and epic fail at settling out of state (which resulted in the loss of what was left of two very thin strands of sanity and reason,along with the awful loss of last child I was attempting to secure a roof for, I landed here, at The Peach, wary, suspicious, my every gas gauge on E for “I Am So Fucking Done”.)
That The Dude opened not only his door, but his heart and his arms as well, to and for me, speaks to his faith, a surety and a strength that to leads me to continue, to this very day, to call him My Rock.
What he was opening the door to was the possibility, after 8 years of swings and misses, of something that scared the living snot right out of me. The fear wasn’t of succeeding at putting down anything resembling roots, despite a deep instinctual drive and desire to do so. It was of failing. So, I started at the furthest end of the yet-unnamed Peachtree Hill, the smallest, unused, least visited space, the 11×11 terrace. And over the next three years, I worked my way backwards into, and through the rest of the apartment.
Last winter, La Belle came for Christmas. After a tour, she declared, as only LaBelle can declare: “Yep. She’s Mom’ed the shit out of the place.”
I’m not really finished. Decorating is an ongoing job as I’m sort of, I think, a closeted interior decorator, forever re-arranging everything from large pieces of furniture to the smallest geegaw. (perhaps I’m an unrealized cottage industry, part pleasure, part neurosis.)
Schwink and I are preparing to leave on a rare, practically unheard of Girls Get Out of Dodge Weekend Get Away. In the 100+17 years we’ve been at this best friend gig we can count the times on one finger that this sort thing has even has been calendared. We’re staying overnight at a little Provence-inspired inn on the Central Coast with no plans except…no plans. Schwink, has an impressive career, post-full time wife and mother, with an office that resembles Mission Control at Cape Canaveral, complete with three lit-up computer screens, a substantial L-shaped configured desk situation and she even has a head set. Although there are no astronauts that I am aware of. And I think I she would have told me. She has, however, seemed to have replaced her children with other adults who, at times, behave like children. Schwink has had no time whatsoever for any of the follies of The Empty Nest Syndrome. A weekend for her away is just that-time to relax, reboot, rejuvenate.
For us, it will be time to be Schwink and Pearl. Time to cackle and guffaw to our fool hearts’ content, unedited and unrestrained. To enjoy all the things that have kept us super-glued to one another through the many, many years, NMW (No Matter What); meandering conversations which go on for hour after hour (often days, occasionally weeks, sometimes months, even decades), laughing to the point of actual debilitating pain, and a deep and rarefied transcendent kinship of our minds, hearts and souls.
Plus the best soy lattes that we ever had. Which we totally knew before Train wrote “Drops of Jupiter”. (But we’re not mad about this at all. It’s fine. We’re happy for them.) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xf-Lesrkuc).
For me, as a recovering wife and mother who has finally found a place to bloom where she is planted, there is still a bit of anxiety in leaving the safety, security and sanctity of The Peach. The World, post wife and motherhood, has been, and can still sometimes be, an unpredictable place for me.
Many a time, in the three years I have stepped outside these four walls, returned, closed the door behind me, locked it and crashed into The Dude’s burly chest and squeaked “It’s scary out there”.
Turns out, in this life, to my newfound amazement, delight and wonder, I get to have a nest too!
Who would have even considered such a thing? I, the architect of The Nest, an inhabitant of one?
I didn’t realize this had happened because it happened so slowly over the past three years as I recovered from my own emptied nest. The Peach, lovely, well-lit, so familiar. And The Dude, with his enduringly consistent love, support, encouragement. And a few others who would bring the same, first and always, Schwink. And then the girls, who were the first to recognize this place, to see it for what it was and what it meant. La Belle to turn up the volume with her laughter and her humor and The Badass Bunny with her…badass bunniness. Like taffy, she is. Sweet, but tough. And individually wrapped. The Dude’s sons, The Muppets, bringing another part of our tribe and The Dude gets to be The Dad. And then, much further along, a few carefully chosen friends.
The Peach has been my own little The Betty ( short for The Betty Ford Center. Respectfully).
I also have called it: El Rancho Recovery, and PeachTree Hill Fluff and Fold and Recovery House as well as La Maison de la Paix. (My beloved French for “The House of Peace”.)
It’s where I based the very best spiritual, physical and emotional recovery I’ve every had.
Where The Dude wrote in Sharpie on the front door “Lock The Bad Guys Out. And I wrote “And The Good Guys In”.
So, I will fly away this weekend. Stretch my newfound wings a little. (who even knew moms had wings? Arms to hold and to hug? Well. Sure. Wings to fly? Are you joking?)
And then I will come home, where I seem to have, for the first time, in this life I have to make (or any other) made a home I can come home to.
I did not see this shit flipping itself. I really did not.