Sometimes I feel like everything needs to stay exactly the same and also be totally different. My house, my friendships, my day-to-day routine – I want nothing to change, I want everything different. I want to go back. I want to move forward. There have been so many transitions and difficult decisions, and sometimes, what seems easy is hard, and what might appear impossible is not.
Last year my muddled brain came up with the word “routinery.” I was planning a vacation and saying that I needed a change of routine and a change of scenery and well, it came out of my mouth as routinery. But it is true, sometimes you just need a change, a break, something fresh. In the tenuous place of grief – this has felt both necessary and scary.
I just returned from a visit to beautiful Montana. The mountains, the river, the wide sky – all a lovely change of scenery. Being with family, time away from work, running on a dirt road, jumping in a lazy river – a healing change of routine. The trip was my much-needed change of routinery. But the transition home, the prickly return to real life that we all feel after a vacation, has that added layer of discomfort. Everything has changed, nothing is different. I returned home, but sometimes I wonder where that is, even though I know it is here. Grief is being homesick for your life before, mixed with the anxiety and anticipation of the unknown. At least that is how it is for me right now. Sounds confusing, I know. Even more confusing to live!
This is my challenge in the after: making and keeping a home and a life where I maintain what needs to be consistent and open up to what needs to change. I cling to the values my husband and I based our life on. The kitchen wallpaper – maybe not so much…? Last year I tried to change a few things in our bedroom. I even bought a comforter but it sat in a corner and I eventually returned it. I could not see replacing what still worked fine and looked good. I was scared to spend money and I was afraid to change the look of that space, our space.
In Montana, as I soaked in the surroundings, the beautiful landscape and the lovely room where I was staying, my mind started spinning with the idea of finally making some updates. Maybe too it will soon be time to empty my husband’s dresser and decide what to store for my kids and what to donate. He told me to do this but I have not been ready. Home again this weekend, I looked at the rug on our bedroom floor and could only see images of our dog, who just died, and the places where she had her puppy accidents and more recently her getting sick accidents. This was the final push. Though the rug had been cleaned – I decided it had to go. Why stop there?
It was not easy. I was the lady you saw wandering up and down the Home Goods aisles. My stomach was in a knot and I was sweating. I left one store and went to another in a different town. I found a duvet for $49 – wow! Then I put it back. Curtains? Lamps? As I was driving from one Home Goods to the other (I mean maybe if I found the perfect thing, at the other store, this wouldn’t be so damn hard?), I realized something that I hope will help me with future changes, transitions and decisions: even if something is beautiful, still functions, and I like it, I can choose to let it go because I need the break.
Things ARE different so why does everything need to look the same? Jobs, relationships, routines – things will need to shift. In the end I had a full cart and by midnight I had yanked that rug up from under our king bed, hung the curtains and washed the new bedding. It feels fresh. I will donate what I don’t need and let it be a change for someone else.
Everyone experiences change – I wonder how it has been for you?