Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Was In A Rut

I am an introvert.  And a homebody.  Jason and I have spent a lot of time and energy making our home perfect for us, a safe, comfy little haven.  I love my home, it is comfortable and peaceful, relaxing and rejuvenating for me.  And a lot of times, I don't want to leave it.  I have to leave it to work twice a week, run errands and take the girls to their outside classes, but other than that...I don't like leaving my house.  

My idea of the perfect day is a day spent at home doing yoga, reading, meditating, cooking.  My girls spending hours in their art studio or baking us a treat.  The more of those days we have in a row, the more recharged I feel.  I loved Hurricane Sandy because it was a reason NOT to leave our house for days.  I have declined invitations, ignored field trip posts and cancelled plans just so that I could stay home.  

I didn't even realize it, but this was turning into a problem.  While yes, I am working and going through the motions and checking things off of our list of things to do each week, I am not really engaging with the world outside of that.  Some may even say that I am not really living life.

I didn't even realize that I was in a rut until I got out of the rut.

See the woman with the plaid shirt who is also laughing in this picture?  We were friends in middle school, despised each other in high school and then she became one of my closest friends on a break in college.  She introduced me to Jason and she is Piper's godmother.  Life took us in different directions for a few years, but in the last year we reconnected!  She is probably the only person who can say the things she says to me without making me cry -- that is her sense of humor and it takes some getting used to, but once you laugh A LOT!
Our neighbors put in an inground pool last summer and paved about 2/3 of their backyard.  The way our properties are set up, their pool is about 25 feet (we measured!) from our living room window.  Before they put the pool in, there were two large old trees that I could look out my living room window and see.  Now I see their pool and their house (which had been blocked by trees).  I feel like they are RIGHT THERE, SO CLOSE, on top of me.  Even though I know realistically that although I can see them in their yard, they can't see me in my house, I feel exposed.  I feel like they can see me.

We have been friends with them for 11 years (they took us out for pizza when we first moved in).  We have shared meals, chatted over beers, bonded over music, watched each other's kids, helped each other out in a crisis, we have keys to each other's homes, water each other's plants, walk each other's dogs.  We talk on the phone and hang out.  But I feel like it's a little too close for comfort when they are in their backyard making noise and I am trying to read in my living room.
 So, I started feeling as though my house was not the little refuge it usually is for me.  I started feeling exposed.  At times, I could hear their music or the kids jumping in the pool or laughing and playing and this would annoy me.  I feel that we should definitely ALL be able to do whatever we want on our own property.  They have the right to play music and laugh and play, but I have the right to meditate or do yoga or read in my house.  I feel that I shouldn't have to hear them.  I feel we should be considerate of each other.  That being said, they have had a handful of parties that were over by 8pm; when their kids are in the pool I can hardly hear them, but a handful of times they had 6 or 8 additional rowdy boys over and that got noisy for a few hours.  But, they have always been apologetic.  They have always asked the girls if they wanted to come over and go in the pool.  And this is New Jersey, you can only really use a pool three months out of the year.  So, in another month it should be back to the peace and quiet I am used to.
 We did think about moving and we have not completely ruled that out.  We are working with a realtor and we know that we could afford a house with more land, farther from neighbors in areas that we like.  But we are holding out for the perfect house with everything we want: a Cape Cod or bungalow style home with a fireplace, a dining room, and a basement on two or more acres.  We could add built-ins, a deck, a wood burning stove and other things to make the house "ours".  We are not, at this point, willing to settle for a ranch or a split-level or a large farmhouse (don't want that heating bill!) or a house on a busy road or in an area with high taxes.  We may never find that perfect house, we may never move...or we might decide to compromise and move to a house less than our dream house so we can have a bigger garden and chickens.
For right now, we are making plans to do things on the weekends.  Barn dances.  Hiking.  The beach. The boardwalk.  The city.  Tubing on various rivers around our state.  The Grounds for Sculpture.  Concerts in the park.  Inflatable obstacle courses on lakes.  Water parks.  Amusement parks.
Seaside Heights Boardwalk

 It started out feeling like a sacrifice: doing things to get out of the house, away from feeling exposed by neighbors who can't see through walls, away from noise that is easily covered by Natalie Merchant and the Indigo Girls, away from feeling invaded.
But we have been having SO MUCH FUN!

Seaside Heights Boardwalk

 I didn't even realize that all of this was missing.  I didn't realize that by saying no, by just wanting to stay home and relax, we were actually missing out on so much.  When we go out together as a family, we all focus on each other.  We laugh and talk and play.  When we stay home, even if we are all home, we are in different rooms often, doing our own thing.  Lately, I have been feeling the fleeting-ness of my girls' childhoods--Allie is starting high school, soon she will start college, and then leave our little nest.  We need this time, we need to go out and explore and make more memories.

Grounds for Sculpture
During the week, the girls and I have been swimming with friends in our across-the-street neighbor's pool--they are awesome and tell us to PLEASE use the pool, if we don't, no one will, as their kids are grown.  We have spent hours in Starbucks reading and talking.  We have redecorated the girls' rooms and made many trips to Ikea and HomeGoods.  We have plans to buy dresses for  formal fall dance and to check out a natural spring-fed pool and an inflatable obstacle course on a nearby lake.  We are trying to make the most of this time...
Years ago, after the movie came out, Jason and I had created "Bucket Lists" and I had forgotten all about them in my effort to lay under my down comforter and read or to learn more about meditation or to perfect my Crow Pose.  This summer, we managed to do some of the things on our bucket lists.

Getting out and about, inspired our history program for the fall.  I created the program after a visit to the city.  I had wanted to show the girls the apartment building where my Naunie lived when she first came over from Sicily in 1920.  This lead to my girls wanting to know and understand more about that time and her life.  Which lead to me designing a history program centered around the experience of immigrants to the US between 1850 and 1950.

The building on Thompson Street in Manhattan where my Naunie lived in the early 1920s when she first came from Sicily.
Maybe our neighbor's pool isn't such a bad thing.  Maybe we can use the summer for adventures and we can hunker down under down comforters in the fall and winter and spring and read and meditate and spend hours on our yoga mats.  It's only three months out of the year.  But you know, I hope that we spend some quality time exploring and going on adventures all year long because these are the times when memories are made!