At a crossroads,
my life feels like I constant web of different directions and split paths,
decisions, difficulties— redemptions.
I seek the crossroads;
that’s where I feel alive, where I’m forced to face change
and choose my own fate.
Constantly facing inconsistency,
only looking a few feet down either path, before they diverge again
and I am again changing course.
Never get bored,
never forget to live; life is always calling, always shifting
and keeping me awake.
Do not stay at the crossroads
but seek more, find change and look for choices,
keep your life in your hands and never settle for cruise control.
Driving up to the new place for the first time— it’s late, I’m coming home from a long day at work, and an even longer week of packing— a possum scurries in front of my wheels on the mostly deserted street. I can’t help but always take those things as a sign. Every time I’ve driven to a new temporary home for the first time, some sort of animal makes an appearance. Almost as if to say, you’re going the right way. We’re home here, too.
In Oak Park it was a coyote, bony and scared but somehow majestic in its silent slink across the road. In North Hollywood, an owl, quiet and deadly swooping off of a streetlight and into the night. And here, a possum. I doubt that the type of animals have any sort of significance, but it’s the sign of life that welcomes me.
The new place is lovely, it feels more like home than any of the other places we’ve stayed in the past year. It almost feels like home. Like the home we used to love and live in… I wonder if any house will ever capture me so wholly again.
But I’ve been here a week now (of the whopping four weeks we will be here for), and it comes pretty darn close. It’s the birds that sing morning songs from the thick bougainvillea vines out the window, it’s the dusty pictures and the cobwebbed corners, it’s the mix-matched furniture and the humming insects. It feels nostalgically familiar. And safe.
The gardens mimic the ones my mother designed years ago in our home. With decomposed granite trails, native grasses, and magnificent drought-tolerant beauties, I immediately see the backyard my sister and I grew up in— traipsing through purple fountain grass and collecting bundles of lavender in our grubby young hands. That was home. Home was the air around us, the buzzing bees and the cackling birds. Home was not the walls, but the vines that zig-zagged up them. Home was the foundation the house was built on, and that’s why this feels like home.
It’s the outside that matters most here. In a one room cottage you can’t help but open all the doors and extend the living space into the yard. We live outdoors and leave the doors open even when we come in to sleep for the night. Even the shower is set up in the yard, surrounded by curtains of course, but when then you look up and your only roof is the knotted branches of an old oak tree, sheltering you from the poisonously blue summer sky.
I got into a heated water battle with a daddy long-legged spider while rinsing today. She would stretch her legs as far as she could around the bend, testing the site for water droplets, before cautiously making her way out of the cove and testing out the saltillo tile foundation of the shower. I’d sprinkle the water in her direction and she’d crouch flat, waiting for it to stop. The drops of water would sparkle off of her long spindly legs but it wasn’t till I precisely hit her tiny teardrop shaped body that she would pick herself up in a hurry and scamper back into her little alcove. We did this several times.
It’s these things that make me question the way we live. Indoors. What good has that ever done? Granted, I live in a hot climate, we get rain about four times a year (we really need more, but the seven year drought makes the idea of rain a very distant memory), and we have never had to worry about being even slightly dusted by snow. Today is considered a cold day at 68 degrees. So cold, in fact, that we had to wear sweaters and made a point of turning on the furnace.
But even so, the indoor space is not important, and neither is the stuff in it, it seems. What makes my home is the outdoor world it’s situated in, the birds and the bugs that call it home, too. I feel at home digging my toes into the rich soil in the garden only to hose them off later before going in the house. I feel at home sitting on a bench surrounded by grapevines, sorting through paperwork before the wind does it for me. I feel at home lying on an old hammock under the oak tree, drinking tea and daydreaming. I feel at home on planet earth, where it feels like planet earth. Where the dirt clings, the birds sing, and the animals welcome me home.