A friend who works in a nursing home told me how she’s noticed that with each new resident’s arrival, the environment changes. Their personalities affect the spirit of the place. It was such a great relief to hear this because I have lately not felt myself changing much of anything beyond gym clothes to daywear to costume to ratty pajamas.
We moved here three years ago. It doesn’t look like we’ll be moving anywhere else right away, so what we thought was a transition has turned into more of a holding pattern. I keep thinking about the phrase “bloom where you are planted” and feel most days like a dandelion in winter.
Our somewhat affordable rental allows for our cat, Steve. There is little that appeals to us about the house — the doors are so close together the doorknobs clack together and pinch a finger or hand (the worst geometry is that of greed), windows stick, everything is beige. There is a mysterious stain on the carpeting in the living room that disappears when I tend to it, and reappears after a month or so.
I fell in love with the tree in the backyard though, and the kids in the neighborhood play inventive and imaginative games outside a lot. We've made friends of the neighbors. It is much quieter than our city apartment was.
Over the course of the past three years, my husband’s trees are filling up the backyard with their green and sudden fruiting, the front garden waves a slow hello in daisies, cosmos, and perennials, and the children ring our doorbell to ask if I can play too, or at least loan them a hula hoop. I’ve nicknamed the pony across the street “Lone Pone.” Last fall I turned our garage into a black box theatre so I’d have a space to create in, and also to share.
Last night we held the inaugural event in the garage space we call “The Little Theatre of the House of the Car.” Steve anticipated the arrival of guests by sitting himself arrowed toward the front door. Friends, neighbors, and family arrived in ones and twos. We ate in the living room, scrunched onto the sofa and what seating was left after I plundered all the chairs for the garage theatre. A few of us stretched out onto the floor.
During performances, which included comedy, dance, poetry, music, and personal narrative, Steve changed the environment with his sassy stride, sliding into the theatre to drink from unmonitored glasses, and rub against legs. Witnessing everyone’s sharing, whether it was movement or song, or spoken word, hearing the space filled with laughter and the exhaled ahs after some poems, I felt wealthy.
I realized that what has felt like inaction has really just been very slow progress, just doing things “one step at a time,” rather than taking gigantic, bold leaps. To make the garage a theatre I sewed curtains (there was first some experimentation with rope and binder clips), organized props and hoops and found space for tools and the lawnmower, and found area rugs to delineate seating and stage areas. It took time. It was worth it.
Setting: A mild summer night in a cul-de-sac dropped into a patchwork of farmland. An audience sits on a driveway and lawn facing a garage. Music begins, and the garage door rises to reveal an empty theatre, a place where anything can happen. A work in progress. Two characters enter. The change is quiet, but obvious.