Tuesday, March 27, 2012

space

Everyone in our home has been healthy for a solid two weeks, now, so we seem to be out of the evil three-month-long plague of 2012 at last. (Everybody, PLEASE, knock on wood with me.) We've been able to get out of the house, see the sun, and ease up on runs to Target for more boxes of tissues, and I think the combination is really doing us all a lot of good. I'm so relieved for the girls, for all of us, and I feel like I can breathe again (in more ways than one).

As much as I'm the classic introvert who prefers time spent at home, it really is mandatory to my mental health that I get out once in a while, too. I'm not exactly sure if that has to do with just needing to be out and about, or if it has to do with living in a 710 square foot home, though. But if I don't get out, the size of the house becomes quickly oppressive. I find myself browsing IKEA catalogs for storage systems that will fit any last scraps of space in the house; I have dreams where I open a closet and find that the house magically has three more huge stories of vast, empty rooms to fill; and if I happen to have trouble putting groceries away in our little pantry, or if I pull out one new roll of toilet paper from under the bathroom sink just to have four more come tumbling out after it, well, I'm just as likely to become angry enough to kick the cabinet doors as I am to sit down on the floor and cry over it.

Getting out is good for me.

But we didn't get out much for almost a dozen weeks, there, and it brought up all the old questions that have bothered me since we got married and moved here. Questions that all seem to be answered with brick walls. Questions that are only more complicated now that we have two little girls, one in the middle of being registered in kindergarten. It's true, our house is little. But we have a yard, we have a garage, and best of all, it's half of a duplex that we share with the best neighbor/landlord/dear friend/occasional babysitter we could ask for. She loves the girls, too, and they love her, and it's the next best thing to living next door to family.

And we love our neighborhood. I do remember that when I locked up my studio apartment in West Hollywood for the last time and left it to settle here in Culver City, I cried. A lot. But here we are, seven years later, and I've found that I like having a few trees around. I like having so many accessible parks nearby, I like catching the westside breeze in the summer, I like not wanting to violently shake EVERY other driver on the roads, and I am still blown away at how convenient most of LA feels from this vantage point. For heaven's sake, Jimmy works in Burbank, and if you know this town you might be surprised to learn that he regularly gets there in forty minutes. During rush hour. I KNOW.

All of these things are great for us, but recently we've discovered that what might be the most important aspect of this home is the school district. We never took schools into consideration when we came to Culver City, but now that Lena will be starting kindergarten in the fall, we've done our research. And when I think about that, I think about how we'll be firmly planted in this little duplex until 2028, when Evie graduates. And after that, it will be just Jimmy and I again, and who will need more space then? Especially considering that I'll be ready to lock the doors and spend the next decade seeing the world. No, really. No. Really.

So I feel good about staying here. I feel good about it until I need the girls' swim bag from the back of their closet, and when I pull it out I also knock over all of their dress up gowns, Lena's jewelry box, and the extra diapers I crammed in there because there was nowhere else to put them. Or until I remember how much I miss playing the piano, and find myself weighing the pros and cons of having a piano in the house versus having a bookcase and chair. For, you know, books. And reading. And sitting. But there certainly isn't room for a piano AND the books and chair. And if we got a piano anyway, where would we put the Christmas tree next year? Well, who needs to play an instrument, anyway?

And I remind myself that we would have more storage if I could just bring myself to get rid of the mountain of baby gear in the garage. But I can't. And I don't know why, because there really is not room for one more human being in this house. I don't even know if I really want another human being in this house, but I'm not quite ready to decide, yet. Or maybe I would be, but it doesn't matter, because there isn't room.

So I think, if I went back to work, maybe we could afford to buy a place. In, say, a hundred years. Okay, maybe in five years. Or six. But, well - if I'm going to do that, I really should dump all the baby gear, anyway.

Welcome to the interior of my brain.

I can't imagine anyone is still reading this - it's painful even to write it all out - but I've been running in these circles for too long. Writing helps me to get the crazy out of my head. Sometimes, anyway. But I really don't know what the answer is, or if there IS an answer. So I'm focusing on getting out of the house, I'm focusing on the excellent school choices we have for our girls, I'm focusing on how happy our girls are with what we do have here, and when I'm inside, I'm making sure to look out the window at the tall trees lining our street, waving, swaying, ruffling in the breeze that I know came in off the ocean - the ocean that we can bike to from our house, our little green house full of little kids running and tumbling and giggling all over each other, wrestling with Daddy, cuddling with Mama, and not caring one bit about square footage. My smart, happy babies. When I focus on them, I know: we're going to be fine.

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