Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Musings, 04 June 2011

Good morning,

I am able to enjoy the porch this morning, with the flag waving, and my son sitting in a chair nearby with a cup of coffee. The white cat stirs on the porch, where she has, presumably spent the night. When I came out of the house this morning, she crouched in the driveway, and a little critter nibbled at the food put out for her by my husband. The noise of my exiting apparently spooked the marauder, following the exit of whom, the cat retook her haunt.

I sit at the wooden camp table, one of two which I purchased at an estate sale several years ago for five dollars each at half-price time, late in the day, when the sale coordinators grew tired of arguing with the miserly customers and yielded to their demands for bargains. I try to write on this porch, weather permitting, since I find so much inspiration in the pleasant mix of urban sounds and smells. The recycling truck has already come and gone; I hear the trash truck in the neighborhood. A horn honks; a siren cries; the neighbor rattles dishes in her kitchen, beneath the open window.

I've had a scrambly week. I find myself stuck in the present, grousing and ruminating over an unhappy client, an ecstatic one, a few mistakes made by my otherwise beloved staff, a client's bounced check and the ache under my right shoulder where I carry my tension. As the vehicle's horn continues to sound, suggesting that it, too, suffers from undue pressure, I breathe the fragrant air of a city spring, and gaze over the lushness of our lawn, with its smattering of fallen leaves and the deep shadow of our maple tree.

I am at home here as I have not been at home anywhere else that I have lived. The rooms of our bungalow are too small for our belongings, and too few for our family of four. The cat has marred the hardwood floors in her dotage, with the smell that never quite vanishes and threatens to plunge the resale potential and value of the place. The door frames still need painting; the upstairs window has not yet had its broken pane replaced. A few of the home's more annoying problems would have to be listed on any seller's disclosure, and those annoyances plague us even now.

But for all its faults, this place suits me. It is the second house that I have owned. My first sat on the highway in Winslow, Arkansas, and had twice as many square feet, with only wood heat, and several acres of rough land around it. I might not have sold that place had I been prescient, for the highway has been re-routed and that land now sits on a scenic road, and no doubt has increased in value from the price I got for it.

My present home sits in one of the worst school districts in the country, and certainly, in the state. It has its faults. It posed insurmountable challenges for my former husband, bound as he was in a wheelchair that could not traverse to the second floor nor down to the basement. It presents different but equally annoying challenges for my present husband, with its tiny closets, and its dearth of living space, and its cussed location under the path of Life Flight's helicopters and the broad sweep of the police department's search lights.

And yet, I loathe to contemplate surrendering my ownership of this bungalow. I've resisted doing so for years, even though I realize there would be advantages to selling. I am a nester by nature. I shudder as I contemplate the homes leveled by the tornadoes, hurricanes and floods around our country and the world. I scroll over the New York Times before-and-after depictions, and my heart sinks. How could you stand to lose your home like this? Losing your spouse, or child, or parent, or friend, or neighbor would be far worse, I know. But there is a special sort of terror that overtakes me at the thought of losing my home.

I remember, though, a friend once telling me that she would be happy with her lover if they lived in a cardboard box on a New York City street corner. She found her home in his embrace. She needed only a place to nestle with him, be it a hovel or a mansion, or a nondescript apartment with one room and a galley kitchen.

The victims of the Joplin tornado lament the loss of photographs, and wedding rings, and the devastating loss of 134 lives. They stand, in footage on the news, and contemplate the rubble of their houses, and then, turn away, gazing fiercely into the camera, and give thanks for their continued existence, and the safety of their children.

My fifty-five years have brought me to this truth: I place my hand in that of one whom I love, and I step into the breach. The label on my clothes is unimportant. The texture of the walls around me has no relevance. The softness or hardness of the surface underfoot does not affect me. I feel the caress of the morning breeze, and close my eyes. I could be on a balcony overlooking a village in Spain; I could be, just as easily, outside a cabin in Idaho. The warmth in my belly tells me that I have been fed, and the slight tingle on my lips lingers from my husband's kiss, tendered as he left this morning, canvas bag slung over his shoulder. These sensations sustain me.

The horn has finally stopped. Presumably, its sheepish owner awakened and came outside to silence it. The sun has risen a few more notches overhead, warming the morning air. I hear a lawn mower in the distance, and the gleeful chirping of the baby jays who were born in our gutter and now are learning to fly, though we fear the one who catapulted out of the nest last week did not make it back to safety despite our encouragement. The knot in my shoulder eases, just a bit, as I think about the day ahead of me. There is work to be done, and chores to be tackled.

But before I undertake these responsibilities, I intend to brew another pot of coffee, and talk to my son about the rock festival he plans to attend next week, far away from here, in Tennessee, where all kinds of danger await, mingled with an equal measure of potential joy.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.