I’m back dogsitting for Jerry, my best customer. I watch him for about a week every couple of months. His house now feels almost as uncomfortable as my mother’s apartment: neither place is mine, so in neither am I completely at ease, but I’m there enough to feel almost home, though always as a visitor. Nowadays, I exist in spaces that other people have created for themselves. The more I stay at my mother’s house and dogsit for different dogs, I find that I’m becoming detached from the space around me and becoming centered on self. Am I all the space I need?
The eight years that I was an empty nester, from when younger daughter went to college in 2013 to when I moved to Florida to be with my mother in 2021, were the only years when I lived by myself. Is that a long time or a short time? Or is it both? Time enough to see that it could be lonely without other people. Time to, also, enjoy not having to adjust myself for anyone or think about how my habits may be perceived by someone else. Enough time to know that the arrangement suited me.
I’ve finally taken a break (most of the time) from checking real estate websites for homes to rent or buy near younger daughter. It’s not that the move won’t happen, it’s that I don’t want to focus on the future—and my future space—when I have the present to live. Looking at homes that will be rented or sold by the time I’m ready doesn’t make me feel satisfied with myself at the end of the day. Enough time has been spent imagining what will be. So many minutes in a day in a life spent daydreaming—no, not daydreaming, suspended—just out of reach of the reality or the doldrums of the day. Perhaps at times I protected myself by looking for the future as an answer, but not now, not at 62.
I need to use each moment that I have in service of my life—of this moment—not on thoughts that are vague, wispy things. For so many years I lulled myself into thinking that my life—I—would be different at some future time. Alas, the same person who couldn’t accomplish goals that were beyond her personality and comfort level, is ready to see what has been done while thinking that nothing has been done. That suspended time may have passed unnoticed, but it is where I have spent my life.
Being in spaces that aren’t mine, I’m forced to think about what is mine—what is me. I cannot appease myself by thinking that the things around me make up my life, make a statement on myself and my accomplishments. Not having my own bed and pictures on a nightstand force me to think about the meaning of a life, of my life: the children raised, the connections established, the creations made, the morality adhered to. Perhaps this is to assuage myself to accepting what I have or don’t have, but that’s okay, because I’m generally at ease with myself. I am here, fully, in whatever space I inhabit.