Saturday, July 27, 2013

Seasonal Losses, The Violence of Spring, and When House-Pride Collides with Apathy

I was listening to Aisha Tyler’s interview with Jeri Ryan recently. They were talking about living in LA, and how neither one of them misses the seasons. They've both lived on the East Coast, and they think the trade-off of constant warm, sunny weather is worth the loss of defined seasons. I feel differently. I feel like I lost something important when I moved to Seattle and no longer experienced seasons—a clear spring, summer, fall and winter. There was something comforting about a defined season, about experiencing the cycles over and over again: A reminder that everything has its time, that no state is ever permanent.

For example, I remember Spring not as the tepid, benevolent warming that manifests here, but as a violent, invigorating force. I saw the earth roaring awake, wild, dirty, and chaotic, purging itself, exploding open. No idyllic crocus spring of genteel poetry, it belched and lurched and bellowed itself into existence. It bled dirt. It threw off the long freeze with great whoops and huge, sloppy, reckless slabs of filthy snow. You knew without a doubt that Winter’s time was over and Spring was the bitch in charge now. Here, everything blends and blurs and lingers. Our seasons are mild and lazy and don’t bother announcing themselves—they just sort of flutter in and stand around unobtrusively until one day you notice it’s mostly rainy instead of mostly sunny. And then vice-versa. I miss the drama of the seasons; those great symphonic shake-ups on a timeline that I was in tune with in my bones. It felt important to see them manifest, and I’ve been pining for them lately.

I first heard the word “house proud” when as a kid I read a thin, obscure illustrated book by John Lennon that contained weird little ditties and drawings, one of which was about a woman who got angry when someone tried to bring a fly-blown corpse into her home. She was "house-proud" and didn’t want flies in her nice clean home. I always wondered if I would grow up to be house-proud too. It turns out I’m house proud in spirit, but not in practice. I love pouring through Elle Design and Dwell, and I have little fantasies about being the kind of person who goes to the Farmer’s Market every Sunday for fresh cut flowers I set just so in a vase on the dining room table. I could spend hours lusting over the Lamps Plus catalog.  Sometimes I even go so far as to ponder marble vs. quartz counter tops. But when it comes down to it, there’s only so much time and effort I’m willing to expend on artfully designed domesticity. The time a normal woman would spend determining and manifesting her personal design aesthetic is the time I use to write poetry and currently, short horror stories about haunted file rooms. If you work forty hours a week and Want to Write, trade-offs must be made. 

Right now, however, our apartment feels as broken as I do. The garbage disposal has been out of commission for a month, its breath swampy in the heat, the deck has an ominous, ever-softening crack running through it, we have two bare bulbs in need of fixtures, a dying fern, and an ant infestation. To top it all off, Mr. Typist has set up a mad scientist shop in the living room, and our dining table is hoard-riddled with computer guts and cables and god only knows.  I just look at it all and sigh. There’s nothing to be done, really. This too, is seasonal. This too, shall pass. The poison traps will murder the ants, the landlord will get around to the garbage disposal sooner or later, Mr. Typist will eventually miss eating dinner and close up shop, and I’ll work up the moxie for a trip to the home store for some fixtures and a new pot for the fern. Maybe I’ll even make it to Farmer’s Market for a nice bouquet before winter settles in.

--Kristen McHenry


Nancy Harris said...

All seasons here in Maine are distinct by nature and unique, but all seasons everywhere are temporal. Keep on writing and the flow of your words and ideas will develop "seasonal" creativity that will flow into your life; distinct and unique!

Kristen McHenry said...

Thank you for the encouraging and wise words, Nancy!