Sunday, November 10, 2013
I'm not where I used to be, and I am so relieved. The Treehouse, though I tried, remained aloof to all my efforts to bring it into the fold of easy familiarity and comfortable rapport. It was, at it turns out, built for two (I mean, think back to any treehouse ever- they're more fun if someone is hiding out with you, the two of you snickering behind a secret password and the knowledge of the expertly hidden trapdoor). The Treehouse was staunchly indifferent to the single lady and her rag tag street kittens. I would come home and feel like I was intruding. "Um, hey, Treehouse? Yeah, work's over so... can I hang out with you?" And Treehouse would harrumph and purse lips and shrug shoulders as it deigned, through thinly veiled condescension, to let me enter. It's wood y'all, how is this level of emotional warfare even possible? Oh, but it is.
Treehouse wasn't always giving me the silent-I-can-barely-bear-you-treatment: I felt fine at first, but living alone there suddenly everything felt too big. At night, when I would crawl into bed, my big, open downstairs room felt like an uncomfortable presence underneath me; I was nesting on an enormous emptiness. No wonder I couldn't sleep. The wall rats, the geckos, the outdoor kitchen- I could hang with the quirky charm of it all. I made plans for a garden. I bought everything necessary to make the outdoor kitchen work. But in the end, honestly, I just needed my own place. Not the place I suddenly had to myself. That's not the same thing. My own place. One I chose as my own.
Yesterday, after a week of sickness that spiraled into cabin fever that served to magnify my discomfort in my own (by default) home, I went out with Jinni in search of painkillers (for her rib) and dirt cheap spa services (for both of us). While Jinni got a massage, I went next door where two tiny women bent over my feet and hands and cleaned me up with ever more delicious smelling scrubs and cold, sharp tools. The sun was streaming in through the windows, the women were smiling and fastidious and kind, and the amiable lap of the leather chair gave way whichever way I needed it to. I rolled my head back, eyes closed, and thought that I hadn't felt this great in weeks. It was then that I realized, in a way that left an angry-cold fist in my stomach, that even though I was still weak and a bit sick, I actually felt more comfortable in that much shared chair, in a strange salon, with unfamiliar strangers touching me, than I felt in my own home.
I decided then and there that I would not spend one more night in the Treehouse. I would give up the guilt; I would give up my stubborn "I will make this work" bullheadedness. I would allow myself to see moving out not as a failure, but as a valid and logical course of action given the circumstances. Why should I continue to live somewhere that felt less hospitable to me than a public chair in a nail salon on a tourist trodden road? The genesis of my discomfort and unease was irrelevant. I had walked myself through all the benefits of the house so many times it was almost a mantra- it's beautiful, it's close to work, the garden, the washing machine, the extra bedroom, the way the afternoon light spills onto the wood in the living room and makes everything glow like a nostalgic painting, it was so cheap, it's already paid a year in advance, you can make this work if you just try, why won't you try harder, you're just not trying hard enough. It simply wasn't working. I was so damned tired of flogging myself to keep trying. I gave myself permission to do something I rarely ever do- I just gave up.
And so I followed Jinni home that very same day and promptly rented the apartment right next door to hers. I have a familiar face nearby, but I'm still living on my own, which I truly enjoy. My bed has only ever been my bed, so it doesn't feel empty when I go to sleep. I woke up this morning and cried in relief because I felt, for the first time since Sept 23rd, like I could actually like living here. I was blaming Laos for how out of sorts I felt, but the problem might be my experience of Laos up to now, due to my trying so desperately to create harmony out of disparate parts and unwilling players. The Treehouse was never my house; it was our house, but now I'm the one who's here. I didn't want to stay where I found myself as a random result of unfortunate events and make it work; I wanted my own place, from the beginning. Now I have it.