Pied-à-terre

I’m back in the Tiny House and pretty soon I’ll be back in my own house, at least from time-to-time.

I had a complete meltdown the other night, it was my last night in FOCO and I found myself more depressed than I can ever remember myself feeling. It was honestly terrifying.

I felt my mind going to that place of, “If it weren’t for my kids I don’t really see any reason to continue living.”

Everything is so fucking bad right now. The west is on fire, the air quality is worse in America than it is in the entire world, our east coast is being ravaged by storms, our president wants to destroy Democracy and install himself as dictator for life, he is trying to stack the Supreme Court to support him in what will be surely a hotly contested election. The environment is shit, people are dying of a global pandemic that Trump doesn’t want to do anything about, no one (including myself) knows who to trust when it comes to health guidelines … even I am afraid of whatever rush-job vaccine he will push through to bolster his election numbers … and people still won’t vote!

There is nowhere to run, there is little I can do, so why not just give up? Wouldn’t it be so much easier? Again, if it weren’t for my kids …

Everything that night felt so hard, staying upright was exhausting, being good company seemed impossible. It was hard to even be around BF because I felt like I was just dragging him down. I felt the crushing loss of the life I had before, the one where I could send out a few texts and know that my house would be full of people enjoying whatever meal I pulled together, laughing and talking. Now I don’t even really know who my friends are. Everyone is just. so. scared. I don’t even know where my own home is.

My tenants are moving out which means I have my place for a few days before my next guests come for a week, and then another group for another week. Then I can be in my space again until I get another booking. But I feel like I live in hotels; I have to be ready to clear out, to erase my existence.

I decided that the best thing I can do is lean into the Tiny House. It is the place I will return to consistently where I should have my necessary things. I should be able to just show up with my toiletry bag, dogs and computer and be otherwise covered as far as having clean clothes and personal items that remind me that I am home. A pied-à-terre. A foot on the earth.

It was so good to be back with my kids, I cannot even tell you. Just being able to watch Lovecraft Country with Casey and then hang out in the Tiny House with Micah and eat something that I made, I felt my heart expand again after feeling so lost. My poor kids are so bored that they jump at the opportunity to go for a dog walk or an errand with me, I don’t feel alone. They want me there, and I don’t have to feel like I must make myself smaller around them.

I’d been staying in Lonny’s guest room, figuring that it made more sense, but now I can see that it was hard on both of us. I crave privacy and I’m sure he does, too. I took a few hours to move things over from the bathroom, closets and drawers, and I spent the night in my little loft. I carried the dogs up the ladder and had a really good night of sleep. One of the skylights open and I felt the breeze on me, the bed soft under my body, and my dogs sleeping next to me. I had vivid and pleasant dreams of buttered toast and comforting food that tasted right and I felt okay.

I’ve slept there before but I felt like a visitor, the smell of construction still lingering in the air. But that all seemed to evaporate and I felt a little peace.

I pulled out some clay and worked on making a pot while listening to a podcast and I felt like myself.

For the last few days I’ve immersed myself in nesting. Lonny hung a shelf in the small bathroom and commented how he’s never met anyone who nests as hard as I do. He wasn’t being critical, but he also didn’t make the connection between the “nesting” I do and how he has benefitted from it, both personally and financially.

Our salad days of visiting artists happened because I knew how to make people feel welcome, how to feed them, how to provide a space that became a destination in-and-of-itself. Our paying guests rave over the soothing decor, the thoughtful touches, the oasis in the sky that it is. I’ve done that with my new house as well, and like the others it has become a place of business.

The Tiny House is the only space that has no commerce attached to it. It isn’t a guest room, it isn’t a potential income source, it’s just … mine. For now. I’m going to leave my book by the bed, my toiletries in the bathroom, my food in the pantry, my underwear in the drawer. I will revel in the BF’s home as a guest, I will enjoy my light-filled bungalow on 19th when it isn’t rented, but I will have my Tiny House Lonny’s backyard for those times in-between. It will be my home base.

I came back from the edge by doing the things you are supposed to do when you are depressed. Get outside, exercise, eat well, sleep, stay away from alcohol, see a friend (Tabby), work on projects, be productive. It’s just easier to do all those things when I’m at “home.”

Perhaps it was that toxic brew of COVID-19, isolation, and displacement leading me to despair. At least I have my skill set and kids to lead me away from it.

7 thoughts on “Pied-à-terre

  1. Dear Vivienne, thank you for inviting us into your nest so many times. Thank you for reminding us of how to live in these troubled, anxious, and angry times. I am relieved to hear that you are feeling better.

    I have been reminded recently of the song from decades ago by They Might Be Giants: Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul. As you have shown, the birdhouse (I actually have preferred “bird nest”) does not have to be exclusively an isolating, insulating island but can be a place of regeneration from which new wings can be spread to give delight to many.

    • Thank you for the kind response, Eben, it has been a rollercoaster for us all. I’m afraid none of us will be able to get off it for quite some time. So meanwhile we must fortify our nests, lard our pantries (both literally and figuratively) and hold on tight. I hope you and Lynn are well. One of these days you need to stop by my little house.

  2. I just got back from CA last night visiting my mom. She is in hospice care staying with my sister CJ. It was so nice spending time with mom and see some of the sisters and some nieces and nephews. I will go back at the end of the month after our anniversary(22 yrs woohoo) I don’t have access to my e-mail. I have to find passwords and other things and it will be a pain so I just haven’t dealt with it. Speaking of dealing with it…..I am glad you are figuring ways to get out your depression funk. It would be very difficult to me to not feel like I have a home where I can nest. I am impressed that you can do it. Pottery and anything else creative is so great for the soul.

    • I’m so sorry to hear your mom is in hospice, I guess it’s that time of life for us. Sucks. I never met your mom but some of her words and ways that you shared with me over the years always stayed with me. The way she worked on her dollhouses to de-stress, how she insisted on finishing the seams on garments (I love French seams as a result) and how she said if you are constantly adjusting an outfit then it doesn’t fit right and you should t wear it. Wise woman.

      • Thanks. There are so many things she has told me that I have told others throughout the years. She is doing so much better at CJ’s than the hospital. She still has her mind so that is great. We have our shows we like to watch, “Say yes to the dress”, “Flea market flip”(I think you would like this one), “Botched”(maybe this one too). One of my nephews is back from school and has been spoiling her with all kinds of fancy meals. I can’t imagine my life without my mom in it, so I am not. I will continue to talk to her every day and just enjoy each day. BTW my sister’s and I put a book together of all the things she has made for us throughout the years and wrote stories about her. So many of the things she has made for us she had forgotten about, because there have been so many.

        • That book sounds wonderful. I’m a big fan of documenting things like that, there will come a time when it will be priceless. Your mom is an incredible woman, I’m glad you are able to stay in the moment.

      • As far as staying in the moment….I had to learn how when our beloved Babystell had cancer. We just lived and enjoyed each day with her. We got to have her for another year. Then my dad….every time I would visit him it was like I was saying goodbye in my heart. He lived for 1 1/2 after his car accident. Now unfortunately I have to do it again with my mom. I think that is so great that you have been keeping your blog, documenting your life. It is hard to remember everything otherwise.

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