Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Love in the time of diminishing expectations

I bought this little cottage almost ten years ago, never dreaming I would love it as I do. 

It was a homely little house, neglected and ignored for several decades when I found it.  After moving in I added  a front porch, new roof, air conditioning and all the other raw comforts required for Minnesota living. 

And I've lived here nearly a decade - alone.

It hasn't been easy.   For almost twenty years I lived at the center of a solid, American family. 

I raised two wonderful daughters,  lived through the end of my ugly marriage and the rebirth of my personality, sold our family home and moved to another city, all by myself. 

At first, the house was not enough for me.  I yearned for a husband.  Not a lover - no.  I had opportunities for affection and turned them down.  I wanted a husband; someone I could care for, cook for, provide for and entertain. 

As the years passed it became clear to me that I would not meet a man who would love me the way I want; a love that will not say "no" to all I have to offer.  The men I met seemed stunned by my domestic skill and intimidated by everything else. 

I continued the painting, landscaping, upgrading.

Then, one day  the strangest thing - my home began to love me back. 

It happened when I was paying attention to something else; perhaps my job, perhaps  my children.  Nonetheless, it happened. 

One moment I was struggling to pay the water bill, keep the kitchen door from falling off, repairing the exterior and painting every spare moment. 

The next moment, I was ambushed by comfort, surrounded by appreciation. 

The order of my study, the decency of my tidy little living room reminds me; this little cottage welcomes me as no man ever has.  When I wipe a kitchen counter, my home sparkles.  When I weed the garden, dust the floor boards, my little cottage returns the hard work with glorious appreciation. 

Writing in an orderly space has never been important to me.  I used to think if I were loved, that would be all that matters. 

I thought the contributions of a man would make my life easier, comforting and secure. 

These days, I keep my files in order, make my bed each morning with pride and precision.  I understand why Scarlet always wanted to return to Terra. 

I only own a tiny lot in a sweet little city with a cozy cottage, spare and limited. 

Still, my house gives as much love as it receives.  In the spring, it feeds my soul with the surprise of tulip blossom.  In the summer, the profusion of green grabs the chaos of color and unites the wild flowers of my garden with the meticulous appearance of hybrid roses. 

And so, I got it made. 

Unlike other writers my age, women and men, I live with an appreciative and adoring partner.

Sometimes, when shadows fall and the weary day draws to a close, I sit alone at my desk and read aloud the lines I write.  My characters chide each other, coach and encourage, reach for acceptance.

In the magic silence of this tidy cottage, I hear sweet approval. 

Yes - no doubt about it.  This little house is a great audience. 

And I am loved.  Unconditionally.