Erin's Everyday Thoughts

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Today I was reading an entry in Theresa's journal that has to do with home, and with moving to a new home. It got me thinking about the different places I've lived. Here's the list I've come up with:

1) Ages 0-5, my family of 6 (once my little brother was born when I was 3, anyway) lived in a small one-story house, out in the country. My parents bred cocker spaniels; country cats roamed around our property, although none officially belonged to us. I don't remember a lot. I do remember one Christmas (probably when I was 4 or 5). All that I wanted was a Cabbage Patch Kid, but when we opened (what I thought were) all of the gifts from Santa, I did not get one (although my sister did). I was disappointed until my dad pulled a wrapped box out from under the chair he was sitting on--then I got my treasured doll, Libby. We were very happy together. I also remember my sister and I knocking on the wall to communicate with my brother in the next room. We had a secret code for the knocks. Being included in my older brother and sister's game felt very special, very important.

2) Ages 6-18, my family and I lived in a white two-story house on the corner, in a small town. My parents still live at the house. This is where the childhood I remember played out. Sometimes I catch myself still calling it "home" (although not as frequently as I used to).

3) Ages 18-20, I lived in a dorm room at BGSU (with one 3-month pause for summer break). I stayed in the same room for two years, although I had a different roommate each year. It's amazing how much time I spent in that small square room, and amazing how much I learned about myself and the world in that space! I wouldn't want to live in a dorm again (ever, I don't think), but I certainly enjoyed it at that point in my life.

4) Ages 20-22, I lived in various places. I lived in 3 different apartments in BGSU. I lived in a dorm suite at Georgetown University, D.C., for a summer internship. Each of these apartments had its own dynamic. Each also had hair brush concerts and a lot of other such silliness. I built strong bonds with amazing young women, many of whom are still my friends.

5) Ages 22-24. After a short stay at my parent's house after graduating from college, I moved to Pennsylvania and took up residence in the third floor of an old, beautiful, large house. This was the first home that I could call my very own, and it will always be special to me for that reason. The ceilings were low, and they sloped on the sides (because of the shape of the roof). There was no shower (only a bathtub) or dishwasher (only a sink), and the stairs to my door were narrow and winding. But I loved that apartment. Although I was often lonely while I was there, it was a good place to spend that tough transition from "college life" to the "rest of life."

6) Age 24. I spent 6 months living in a one-bedroom apartment near Philadelphia. It was 1 of 6 apartments in a huge Victorian house. Although perhaps the most beautiful apartment I've lived in (high ceilings, tall windows, beautiful hardwood floors), I was unhappy there and never really settled in. I was happy to leave.

7) Age 24. I spent 1 month, between jobs, between lives, living with my boyfriend at that time. A month free and clear to do as one pleases seems enviable, but I was restless, wandering, miserable.

8) Ages 24-present. I now live in a two-story house with my roommate. It is a lovely place to live, although I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and wonder--"where am I?" And then I wonder ... will any place ever feel as much like "home" as did the house I grew up in? Does "home" have more to do with how long you live in a place, or how stable and comfortable you feel while living there? If it is the latter, I doubt I'll ever recapture the utter comfort of my childhod again. That thought actually used to bother me a lot more than it does now, though. I think some amount of dis-settlement can be good. It keeps you striving and thinking. It keeps you searching for a home, which you might find in a hundred different places--a job, a friend, a lover, a story.

And now for those of you who haven't responded to Theresa's post, a question: Where have you lived?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Blues

This week I’d like to sing the blues. Deep and luxurious, like Billie Holiday. I’d sing of feeling lost in the expanse of life around me. I’d sing of standing still while the rest of the world rushes on. I’d sing of these pockets of sadness that descend at will, again and again and again. It’s difficult to concentrate on anything menial when I am feeling so potently. And I know this paragraph is self indulgent. But I’ll leave it here anyway.

Gosh, I hate when I get in moods like I’m in this week. It seems that no matter what I try, there’s no way to cheer up. That’s not to say that there aren’t happy moments to every day—indeed there are—but the overall feeling is: GLUM.

I am happy to say that these moods don’t shake me as deeply as they used to. When I was younger and less wise (although I don’t think wise would be a great word to describe me now, I do think less wise aptly describes my past), when one of these moods struck, I was always afraid that the shift represented the “new me” and that the blues were here to stay. How on earth will I adjust to such a dreary life? I would wonder. Now I know that this is a phase. I feel sad today. I’ll probably feel sad (at least off and on) tomorrow. But at some point in the not-too-distant future, I’ll feel perfectly okay, and then one fine day I’ll feel happy. And I probably won’t even realize the shift until after it’s passed. (Because when I’m happy, I’m not as acutely aware of my mood.)

Although I understand the cycle of these moods, and in some cases even understand what can set me into them, I still don’t fully understand what makes them stick around so long, even after the initial catalyst (if there is one) is resolved, after a problem has been solved. I wonder if it is the result of some chemical chain reaction that takes longer to clear out of my system than a situation might. I also wonder if this is my body/mind’s way of staying in balance. If I didn’t go through sadness from time to time, perhaps I wouldn’t be able to recognize happiness when I experience it. Maybe more than anything else, this is just who I am and how I respond to things. That doesn’t make me any less curious to figure out the why, though.

I think one of the tricks to these moods has to do with the catalyst. When something (big or small) sets me into deep thought on a subject or emotion, I have trouble escaping that thoughtful mindset. That’s not to say that a thoughtful mindset is bad—indeed, I strive for thoughtfulness. But there is an important line between being thoughtful and being consumed with thought. When I’m thoughtful, I can turn it off and go about my day as needed (working, reading, being). When I’m consumed with thought, that thought process seeps into everything I do and makes it nearly impossible for me to concentrate on anything but the thought for any amount of time. I’m thrown into a static place—like a deer in the headlights. I can’t even listen to the radio in my car—my mind is too full of its own intensity to stand for any outside stimulus.

When I’m working something out, this state of being consumed with thought makes sense. My mind is working overtime, and I don’t expect it to shut off at will. But it’s coming down from the consumed state that gets me. Once I’ve thought through what I’d like to think through, my mind keeps on whirring. It’s the days of settling that I have difficulty with. I want to turn my brain off and relax, but I can’t.

You would think that periods of overactive thought would be perfect times to write. But I find that with the consumed by thought state also comes sadness, and with that lethargy. Thought that was useful turns to useless, a spinning wheel going nowhere.

So here I’ll sit, waiting for it to pass.