Summer, for all intents and purposes, is over. Labor day traditionally is the day that, while not officially so, tells us that. Of course, here in LA there is no distinct weather pattern that goes with that passage of time. It just gets a little cooler eventually and that's that. In other places I've lived, New York, Chicago, Missouri...one can count on the weather being that final nail in the seasonal coffin. Not so, here.
I'm up inordinately early today because of all the usual things on someone's mind: bills, future, concern for close friends, blithely trying to predict the unknown. I'm an early riser by nature. Even more so in the past few years. Some time back I wouldn't have thought that possible. Actually, some time back, I'd probably be getting to bed right about now. But as I got older and my lifestyle changed, a freakish thing happened. I became aware that I was a morning person. Helluva thing to discover about oneself after decades of being a night owl.
Yesterday, once again, Ange and I walked over to the new house we're desperately hoping will soon be ours. And consequently, once again last night, I dreamt of living in that house. It appears to be everything we want in a house. I don't have, nor have I ever claimed to have, very good taste when it comes to stuff like fixing a house up. My idea of a cool house is based on the houses I've seen on television. I've always thought the ideal house for me was something akin to The Ponderosa house. The one Hoss and Adam and Little Joe lived in. That gives some indication of my taste as a decorator.
When it comes to this 'settling down' business, I am decidedly a late bloomer. Yes, I've had dozens of apartments I've sort of nested in. New York and Chicago, most pointedly. But my idea of fixing a place up was to put a new picture on the wall. I remember years ago I was asked to do the entire season at an Equity theatre called Mill Mountain in Roanoke, VA. Back then they housed the out of town actors in a large communal boarding house of sorts. We all had our own very large room with a huge kitchen that we shared. It met all the Equity requirements for housing, however. I traveled over to the local library and discovered one could check out famous prints of classic paintings for months at a time. So my room ended up having Picasso and Van Gogh all over the walls for six months. I felt very cosmopolitan.
Another idea I had about the perfect place to call home was Salinger's description of The Glass Family Apartment in Franny and Zooey. Huge bookshelves everywhere, sagging under the weight of thousands of books, massive leather furniture, throw rugs tossed here and there, the smell of coffee and leather and reading in the air. The late afternoon sun shining through dust motes and cigarette smoke. But that image always seemed more appropriate for New York than Burbank.
I once parted with quite a lot of money trying to make an apartment in Queens look like that.
In any case, I never quite grasped the concept of making a home an actual home. For one thing it just never seemed that important. I was the kind of guy that would carry a light bulb from room to room rather than actually take the time and go out and buy more light bulbs. I ate countless meals over the sink. If I had a coffee maker, a well-stocked bar and a reasonably clear television, I was fine.
Now, of course, all of that has changed. I'm actually thinking along lines of permanence. Of growing old in one place. Of making my surroundings a natural extension of who I am. And it is, in a suburban dad kind of way, rather gratifying.
A few weeks ago I found myself wandering around our backyard trying to think of things that would make it seem more inviting, more comfortable. Ange and I spend a lot of time in our backyard. It's very private, very secluded, with tall walls on either side, a gazebo, several concrete walkways, two horse stalls, a tack room, a large garage, a long strip of garden, lots of cast iron lawn furniture, a huge grill. All the things I've never given a moment's thought to before very recently.
The place we're trying very hard to move into has all of that and more...a guest house, lots of trees, a huge barn, an office, a patio, a big stretch of grass and shrubbery. The house is set on about 10,000 square feet of land, in fact.
So things change. The only constant, I'm told, is change. Change in how one perceives things, how one envisions things, how one approaches life. I'm a poster boy for change, it would seem sometimes. Odd, considering the one thing I dislike the most is change. Like lots of people I know, I always wrongly assume that the way life is at any particular moment is the way life shall be forever. That line of thinking has never worked out once, not one single time, yet I am always shocked when it doesn't. I'm a slow learner.
The new house has somehow gotten inside my consciousness. I think of it at the oddest moments. I find myself dreaming about it. In my dreams I write and act and direct short plays based on it. I see Angie superimposed over the image of June Cleaver sashaying about the property in pearls and aprons. I conjure up film clips of myself as Ward Cleaver, smoking a pipe, reading the paper by the fire, changed from suit coat to button down sweater, still wearing a plain, black tie.
It's almost nightmarish in its constancy, this new idea of life.
Recently, Angie and I toddled off to Target (yes, I know it's not cool to shop there these days now that we know of all the right wing contributions this corporation makes, but hey - we had a bunch of Target cards) and got a bunch of new stuff for our dining room. A new tablecloth, a new clock on the wall, a new picture of a bird that matches the colors in the tablecloth, new candles, new placemats, new napkins that match it all...and the coup de gras, new curtains. Now, every time I walk past the room I feel compelled to look at it and swell with pride. It's a disturbing new era I've entered.
There's also a part of me, the nomad part of me, that quakes at the idea of staying in one place forever. Of awaking every day to the same view. Of finishing my life in the same familiar barco-lounger. Not that I have a barco-lounger, but euphemistically speaking.
We don't have kids, obviously (unless we count the puppies, but I suspect they'd be happy anywhere as long as we were there with them) so it's not that. We're not compelled to make a better life for our off-spring like many other people. No, it's not that.
I think, and I'm only guessing here, that it boils down to the idea of simply not having the energy or ambition to keep doing it over and over anymore. Not having the drive to make new friends, to establish new boundaries, to start from scratch just one more time. It's soothing to think that this might be the last time. The final nest. The search ended. The holy grail attained.
It is unimaginably comforting to know this is the last bed I'll ever have to awaken in.
And, by natural extension, the last person I'll ever have to awaken to.
And, wonder of wonders, it's exactly the the bed and person I've spent a lifetime searching for.
My, oh, my, how odd life is sometimes.
See you tomorrow.