I recently built an outdoor shower on the side of our house here in Florida.
Not only was I proud of the work I put into the thing, and the finished product being functional (it’s plumbed with both hot & cold water & drains well) as well as pleasing to the eye (the corrugated metal siding I used for walls looks nice), I am entirely besotted with the notion of the outdoor shower.
What is it about showering under the open sky? On cold mornings, the steam billows into the tree limbs above, like clouds of smoke from a fire. I can look at the lake while I lather-up, can listen to the birds, can feel the breeze.
Since I finished the thing a couple months ago I think I’ve only taken two showers indoors. It is seriously such a better start to my day.
I sometimes find myself sad when I think about that fact that I don’t write regularly anymore. So I tell myself, “Self, let’s write again.” And then I keep not-writing. A cycle.
I suppose the thing to do is not to try and catch-up, but instead just to start again. Because lots has happened… like… we live entirely across the country, we chose to make less money and live smaller, our kids are so much older and people we loved are already gone. But that’s catch-up so let’s squash it.
To start: Life is good.
The decision we made to move here & change was a good one. It’s paying. It has not been without its moments of madness and anxiety, still is not without them.
Is that how you start? Re-start? K. Whatever. I think I can take it from here.
We were in a cabin together, in the mountains. Our family, also some friends I think. It looked like the Rockies or Sierras. In fact maybe it’s the mental image I have of the cabin and hills we’re going to in Spring with friends from church. But it was on the rocky hills, granite and dirt and level-upon-level rising out the back windows towards the sky.
At first it was steam in the distance. Then rumbling. We went to explore and found a hole in the ground filled with angry water. I think this part of the dream comes from an amazing drone-shot video I saw yesterday of an open pit-mine somewhere in Arizona. Eventually the water fountained into a geyser, exploding out of the ground with heat and force. I guess we ran because the dream picked up elsewhere, as much as I can remember.
I think maybe I knew, in the dream that is, what was coming. Cut to Keaton and I, we’re down the hill in the city proper. I’m pretty sure it’s a street scene from the city I grew up in in Central Florida, near the bowling alley and Arby’s where I briefly worked. We were walking, but with haste. It was dark now. And then in the distance it happened, a volcanic eruption. In an example of solid dream physics, we saw the pyrotechnics before we heard and felt the blast.
Debris began to rain around us and I knew we should take shelter under one of the cars lining the streets, but my feet were rooted to the earth in some fear-driven refusal to move. I shouted at Keaton to get under a car.
That’s all I remember.
I need community, and at present I lack it.
Although we’ve been in our new southern surrounds for two years now, I am not shocked that we’ve struggled to establish our new community. Moving into a new state, changing our lifestyle, quarantining through a pandemic… all legitimate and material headwinds.
Yes we have, will always have, our California community – and thank God for it because staying in-touch with them has been a bit of manna in this desert. We also have our family here in Florida, one of our primary motivations for being here, those connections buoying us greatly.
But, for me, at least, there is still “more” that I’ve yet to establish. The diversity and number of human outlets we had prior to the move is a gap in my current sense of community. Worse, this dearth has led me to become overly-reliant on what geographically-proximal relationships I do have, tapping them for more than they can be expected to give.
Being over-reliant on a very narrow set of personal relationships then causes me to be extra sensitive to normal relationship ebb-and-flow. With a multitude of outlets, temporary quiescence of any one is seamlessly absorbed by load-balancing into the remainder. Said another way, the bigger the community the more outlets available to “pick up slack” or “handle surge.” Just like an electric circuit has a load rating… perhaps so does any given person/person relationship. Pushing everything through the same channel is bound to burn it out.
Maybe this is part of getting older… an expected waning of community, at least in terms of pure numbers? I sort of imagine that’s so. Dunno, but I’m taking some concrete actions to “get involved,” to establish some additional outlets… new circuits…
With apologies to those I’m currently overloading, then… peace out.
When you put new paint on things, when you wash the windows. When you seal those old holes the former owners put in the stucco, or make sure the grass is edged cleanly along the driveway lines.
You have a favorite pizza place, know where to get the best produce and who to call for appliance repair. You’ve moved things in the kitchen a few times, reorganized, optimized, made it better and easier to use.
What lanes to be in on the drive into work.
What time of day is best to take a walk.
You’re OK. You’re growing roots. You’re looking back less. You’re almost here.
You’re so sleepy but I’m not tired yet. I’m gonna watch ALDS game 3 for a while in bed before turning in. I check with you and you say it’s fine before pulling on a sleep mask and putting in earplugs.
I doze once or twice but am still awake. You’re tossing and turning a little. Thirty minutes ago you turned towards me, put your head on my chest, arm across me, and legs touching mine. I can smell your hair it’s right next to me face, it smells like you.
For twenty minutes I try not to move, not to disturb you so you’ll stay here forever. I feel your weight on me, your chest rising and falling against my side. I concentrate on thinking thoughts directionally – into your sleeping consciousness: I love you; thank you; stay.
Eventually you roll away and that’s OK, it was the best twenty minutes of my day.
I have been struggling lately with a set of strong, but thankfully intermittant, feelings.
I have had a hard time pinning down the exact nature of the feeling, but I think I’ve decided that its rooted in a sense of being disconnected. This disconnectedness is then followed by knock-on sentiments you’d expect, like sadness and lonliness. I’ve spent a lot of time on this. On me. Taking a soak with the feeling; considering it, processing it, attempting to engage it in conversation. I’ve spent so much time on it, on me, that it’s sort of become self-feeding. To really feel the feelings takes time. Without balance, the new allocation of time to focus on self could see me forsaking the very folks from whom I’m feeling disconnected.
I also suspect these feelings are not entirely rooted in reality. Meaning, I’m probably not as disconnected as I feel… yet, for whatever reason, I’m feeling it. Worse, I get obstinate when feeling particularly disconnected, and have even caught myself withdrawing further from the very things I feel disconnected from out of of some self-pity or spite. Makes for a neat little negatively reinforcing feedback-loop, doesn’t it?
Writing about it helps me remember that I’m most likely over-thinking it, and that it’s also probably not as real as it feels.