Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Going Home

We all have an idea and an "ideal" of what home is. I think men and women have separate and different ideals of what home is. When I first got married, I liked the sweet idea of my husband telling me he wanted a living room where you could put your feet up and no one would yell at you. I liked that -- one should be at home at home. I still like that.

We didn't have one of those prissy living rooms -- or that crazy thing of having a tv/wreck room where people really relaxed and a "fancy" living room where god knows what happened. Those living rooms where you weren't supposed to be "living" very much, actually they were made for acting like you were dead or a ghost.

My idea of home is about something simple, clean, cozy, relaxed. If it's so perfect you can't put your feet up or fart -- forget it. If it's so messy, it's chaotic, that's not good either. I do a lot of tidying up and tossing out.

With a kid, there are always so many little GI Joe army boots and stray Lego pieces and motorcycles who've lost their action figure riders and art projects lying around, it's a tough row to hoe to keep things tidy.

And the clutter wars will always be with us. It's so hard to manage unless you do a lot of tossing and purging on a regular basis. This can lead to trouble with men and boys who like to keep special dear items like an old acorn they found on the way to kindergarden, or their freshman year in college running shorts or ... the list is long.

Emotionally home has a climate as well. You should be loved at home. You should be hugged at home. You should be able to laugh and let your belly hang out at home. You shouldn't feel like anything you say will be criticized or rejected at home. But sometimes homes are not so homey and it might cause you to leave home or start a new one.

When we began to edge up on divorce, I noticed I wasn't happy being at home, it wasn't homey, it was dangerous in that it felt like I could no longer be real there -- my real self -- and if I showed my real self -- there was hell to pay in subtle ways. I was disapproved of. I wasn't okay there. I wasn't liked there. These things had started small. In little ways, they were there, just hanging there like slightly peeling wallpaper, not too noticeable, but then it got worse and there were big tears in the wallpaper and we were ripping one another apart emotionally. But it's never that "big" -- it's more like small sighs of sadness. We would look disappointed or mad or annoyed or fatigued with one another. It started to build and it all turned into an avalanche and it had to change.

We probably both noticed it -- that we felt more at home OUTSIDE our home and in the big world, where people were nicer to us than at home. That's telltale. It either requires a massive change -- turning a cruise ship around, all the way around -- or an "abandon ship!" When you have to man the lifeboats, you just do it. There is no going back.

No one I know who's divorced ever wanted to end up divorced, especially people with kids, but there's a point of no return where you absolutely must rewrite your life. Before you reach that point, it's nearly impossible to conceive of a new life, but when you arrive at it, you surprise yourself with your agility and ability to live in a new way.

You long for a new home where you can be the new person you've somehow become. You long for a new home where people like that new person, where people LIKE you. It's not a lot to ask, is it? It's simple. It's home.