I've become the Goldilocks of trashcans. Two weeks ago, I moved into my new home. It's a little cottage in Mill Valley, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. After years of being in and out of cities and in and out of storage units, finally settling down means everything must be perfect, including the garbage cans. It's strangely hard to find just the right trash receptacle - you want it to do its job and fit in its corner. But I don't want to buy something just to fill the space. I'm willing to wait for the right one. The right garbage can is important, you know.
When I first signed the lease and posted a picture on Facebook, Zach said, "I didn't know they were still selling real estate in heaven." Tracking down your own spot of heaven is a bit of a holy calling for most of us. My heaven apparently comes with skunks plotting on the deck and squirrels tap-dancing on the roof. The floor tilts a bit to the left. Spiders fall from the ceiling. Sun lights the deck in the afternoon. When I open the sliding glass doors, I can hear water rushing past rocks in the creek bed. My storage space rests under a treehouse. It's like camping, but with my own mattress and internet access. It doesn't have everything I was looking for - there's no laundry or bath tub - but I'm learning to accept gifts as they come, without being too persnickety about checking off every box I concocted while dreaming of what I want next. So far, I've learned that I own too many books and that it is possible to coexist peacefully with many-legged insects. I see animals loving my home as much as I do as a good sign, even as I lose any and all remorse over killing ants.*
* All god's creatures, my ass. Get out of my sink, ants.
I've always treated my apartments like way stations between me and whatever was next. For the first time, I want to build a home. A home with a trashcan that suits me perfectly, yellow rugs and mugs, a home with the few pieces of furniture I've collected and the books I love. I don't know what my future looks like. Any wisdom I've gained over the years falls smack into the "give up on knowing what's coming because life will surprise the hell out of you" category. I don't know if I'll be here for five months or five years. I do want to get married and have kids and, since I'm turning 36 in a few months, it would be nice if that was sooner rather than later. But I want to build my home as though I'll be here for years - choosing things carefully, creating a space for myself, the kind of space that nurtures who I am and who I want to be, and looks pretty doing it. If I do up and move again soon, it will still be time well spent. Because this is a way of taking care of myself, of reminding myself that I'm worth the effort, even if it is just me. Especially if it's just me.
Maybe this will be the last time I can create a home that's all my own. If you have a family, apparently you sometimes have to let them choose things and, I don't know, take their needs into account on occasion. So maybe this is the last time I get to enjoy being psycho perfectionist about trashcans and having everything precisely the way I want it. Maybe this is practice for building a beautiful, useful space for me and my family. Maybe this is creating the space that will nurture and support me for years to come. I just don't know. So I will build it and trust that things will work out exactly as they should.
For now, home is a hobbit hole surrounded by redwoods and tucked into the curve of a babbling creek. Maybe it will be mine for mere months, maybe for years. But now is all we ever know for sure. So I will love it and care for it until it's time to love and care for something else.