This morning, as I trudged up to the top of the hill overlooking the reservoir, I encountered a missive from the Great God Panda:

A thrilling time is in your immediate future.

Great God Panda, could you please define two terms for me? Thrilling? Immediate? I kept going on my travels, coming across a discarded bright pink woolen glove. Thrilling? No, hardly. I knew, though, that the Great God Panda (GGP) was speaking to me about my upcoming floor project.

In all honesty, I’ve been experiencing more anxiety than I’d like to admit about my upcoming flooring replacement. In short, I’ve been hijacked by my favorite saboteurs and am going to play with them here for a few minutes:

Pleaser: You’re going to upset the people who live directly under you and though you have no idea who they are, they will become your worst enemies and through their monstrous retribution will cause you to have to move out of the building, unable to sell the apartment to any buyer. Sage Solution (thank you, Tina): Buy a big box of cookies and leave them at their doorstep on Sunday night along with an equally cloying note saying “Hi! Please accept these from your neighbor above (no name) on the eve of horrific disruption as she has new CORK and hardwood flooring installed. She wants you to know that this too shall pass. You can be happy that she never wears high heels and rarely vacuums.”

Hyper-vigilant: I planned to take two days off from work so that I could be here to “supervise” the work. I began to imagine lamps falling off side tables, and things that I hadn’t boxed up properly getting jettisoned like packages at Amazon the week before Christmas. I’d chewed my fingernails to the quick after not having done it for the bulk of the pandemic (we have lived through the bulk of the pandemic, right?)

Sage Solution: After several days with my stomach in knots, I rescheduled the vacation days for the end of June and boxed up my computer, moving it back to the office. I will greet the installers Monday morning, tell them what direction I want the wood to go and then head blithely off to work.

Restless: Why am I doing all these projects right now? Wasn’t the chaos of the pandemic combined with the spring semester and final exams enough excitement? What is this constant fetish about reshaping my spaces about?

Sage Solution: The process of minimizing my belongings has been clarifying. Here’s an example of what can happen when you are curious about people and ask questions. Last week, we had a scheduled fire drill in the building. When the alarm sounds, you are supposed to walk down through the stairwell five floors and gather in the hallway for further instructions. I do that, happy to see that I’ve managed to follow the instructions I’ve been given, assured by meeting a fellow university professor who lives on my floor. In a few minutes, we’re instructed to go down the stairs to exit outside and walk to our building congregation point. I fall in walking with two young women who live across the hall from me and their adorable little puppy. I’ve not seen them since they moved in about two years ago, and had forgotten their names. They had not. Awkward. However, in the course of our practice fire drill evacuation, they share that they run a bar downtown.

Which one? (Why am I asking that? I’ve been sober for 35 years)

The Library Bar.

(My ears perk up)

Do you ever need books?

(Their eyes widen with interest) Why, yes, we sure do! People walk off with them.

I’ve got boxes of books I’d love to donate for your bar.

Fantastic!

And sure enough, they took two boxes of books the next day. Problem of book disposal solved, and new friends made. One of them was even a Red Sox fan, so I was able to give her some of Jimmie’s remaining Red Sox books. These are the gifts that can happen when you let your Explore sage come out of hiding.

Avoider: For weeks I’ve been looking over at my home office table with its leaves extended and have been imagining the table getting yanked away from the wall, loose top sliding with the computer onto the ground, papers cascading to the floor.

Sage Solution: In a rare moment of my sage power of Activate, I boxed up the computer and took it to the office, and now have cleared the table top off. Then I stopped on the way home and bought four more boxes from the UHaul store, so I could box the remaining tchotchkes. People like me with ADHD are really gung ho when we start projects and tend to peter out toward the end. This is where the avoider really kicks in. I feel like I have a strategy to avoid the avoider now. But why am I vacuuming my carpets today? Speaking of…

Hyper Achiever: On June 1st, they were going to deliver all the materials for my flooring project. I asked my big brother to be at the condo for me to receive the wood, because I had a new employee starting at work. I found myself mentally scattered all day, eye on the clock, not wanting to inconvenience my brother nor have my attention stray from my employee’s onboarding. I came home at 3:30 to work and wait, the wood not having arrived yet (it’s window 11A-3PM now long gone). Finally, at 5:30 they arrived and the loading procedure unfolded…so slowly. As I looked over my balcony at the semi bilging buckets of glue, boxes of cork, and pallets of wood, I worried about what the building manager would say, or the neighbors who watched as they shoved the dollies carrying the wood into the elevator after hours.

Sage Solution: I made myself dinner and purposefully didn’t go to the lobby to “supervise.” Did some PQ reps and thought about how grateful I was for my brother who had sacrificed his entire day to help me. Glad I’d ducked into Starbucks to get him a few Frappuccinos to go before he drove out of the garage.

That’s a lot of wood. And weight.

Restless: Now I’m shoving furniture around my apartment so that it’s where I want them to put it back after the project. Like they’ll remember where the stuff came from after they’ve piled it in a huge bonfire pile in the hallway. Again, dusting furniture and vacuuming like a mad woman.

Sage Solution: Go for a brief walk to get some lunch and return to eat it outside on the patio. Breathe. Think about what my friend Life has given me by throwing this project to me to catch. By getting upset about the upheaval, I’ve been ignoring and not trusting that I’ve chosen to redefine my life by clearing out and rebuilding my physical space. When we spend time in a space, we absorb all the memories of that space. The triumphs and the tragedies. By redesigning completely the look of what was our apartment into what will be my apartment is a gift. A redo. The architecture exists – all the artwork that we collected together, the furniture we bought together is still there. Our history is still here. But to get to craft a living space alone for the first time in my adult life is in itself an act of self-creation, self-articulation that is none other than a rebirth.

In other words a thrilling time is in my immediate future. Now, off to get that lunch.

4 thoughts

  1. Brava, Els – breathe, create, revel in the new, with all the loving underpinnings of the old. Go for it!

  2. Dearest Elsbeth,
    Loved your magical practical humorous
    reolutions to life time rebirth!!
    Good to hear you survived happily!!
    Inspired me to lift some layers of “clutter to the gutter”… later…πŸ˜‚πŸ€—πŸ˜šπŸŽ‰πŸ˜πŸŽΆπŸ’“
    Love, renie
    who is still hobbling along…time will heal, they say…xoxoxo
    Zzzzzzz

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