Summer of Evolution


I’m looking at my calendar and am perplexed that it’s September. Somehow we’ve had an entire summer – a summer that was lost to me amidst dirt and grime and boxes and bills. Looking back a few months I see that we moved into our new house on April 27th … ah, spring … a week after we had originally planned, due to construction delays. We moved, but by no means was the construction actually completed. It’s still not. We’ve been here almost five months, and we are in a permanent state of chaos. Ordinarily that would devastate me, but somehow Homo Sapiens Sapiens (yes, we are twice the sapien) adapt.

My husband and I had been looking for a home for, I kid you not, 10 years. Ten. Years. Not casually, but actively –open-houses every weekend. It’s something of a joke to our friends. We put offers on literally dozens of houses – we are master of the lowball. It’s a long, uninteresting story how we came to buy this particular house, but we thought it was lovely and we laid out our dollars to make it ours and it happened. Finally. Our home. Wow, we’re really here. This is where our girls will remember growing up. It’s beautiful; it just needs a few little things to make it complete.

Georgia and my pal Karen were there with me the day that I moved, because my husband was in Europe or Africa or somewhere working, and my girls were staying with their aunt, while I got us settled. They both helped unpack boxes of broken dishes (courtesy of Starving Student Movers) and kept kindly silent over the fact that moving into this home was likely the least intelligent thing I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong, the home will be finished someday, but on April 27th, you had to have vision to see it. Actually, you had to have vision to see anything: the shelves, the floors, the logic…

Georgia and Karen left at 3pm, before traffic hit, and I stayed with the movers until 7:00pm (4 hours after they were scheduled to be done), at which point I just gave them my keys and said, put it anywhere (not wise), and I left to do my 8pm concert, which I performed in an unshowered haze of sweat, dust and exhaustion. (I apologize if you were there.) The next day I left for Buenos Aires for more concerts.

My husband came back from Europe while I was away and called me in Argentina asking if I had lost my mind. I had just started to, in fact. He’s great that way; he notices the little things.

WHY DID I MOVE?? I don’t know what possessed me to move on April 27th! Why didn’t I stay in our sweet rental house another month – or forever? The new house was not just unfinished, it was uninhabitable. I am a moron. Robert had to move himself and the girls into a hotel, where we lived long enough that my 2-year-old thought that was our new house and she marveled that it came with breakfast.

I’m type A. Are you surprised? I like things in their place. Mmmm, no, that’s not quite it. I cannot think or function with things out of place. But humans must adjust in new conditions if we are to survive, and I’m a survivor – so, Darwin, I’m your finch, baby – see how I’ve evolved:

Money. The budget. We had one. I used to be excellent with numbers and finances – I balanced my own checkbook and everything. But as many people will tell you in a home remodel, one thing leads to another, or in our case, one discovery leads to another, and well … slippery slope, domino effect, pick your analogy. Months ago, when we started going over budget we panicked, but that was the amateur in us. At some point you just say, “(Bleep) it, let’s get this done. Do the kids really need to go to college?” See? It’s just a simple shift in priorities. Easy.

Scheduling. It’s a lovely concept, isn’t it? People adhering to a schedule, items lining up and being completed in an efficient order? I used to be a girl armed with a task-list and a calendar, but now I laugh in the face of iCal. We thought we’d be partying by May. I mock you May! January is just as lovely for a BBQ, right? The only thing on my schedule now is the emailing I do every Monday morning to vendors and workmen asking when they might show up. It’s not so much an appointment as a ritual: I drink my coffee and type away – calming, familiar, safe.

Health. In April I was allergic to dust, but voila (!), I’ve acclimated: drywall dust, yard-of-dirt dust, workmen-trekking-in-and-out-all-day-long dust – none of it affects me. I wear it like the cashmere cardigan I wish I hadn’t left at that theatre five years ago. I bear no grudge, sneeze no sneeze, as I wipe/mop/push that dust back to its corner each evening. Swifting is simply what I do at 5:30pm now. It’s a relationship I’ve nurtured. We watch Project Runway together.

Furniture. It’s optional, you know, though in the last month we’ve actually inherited some beautiful antiques from both our parents who happen to be downsizing (thank you, God) at the perfect time for us. We have also bought those few pieces I suppose you must have, like beds and kitchen chairs, despite the fact that the girls prefer the floor. We waited for Labor Day sales, but caved on the actual day when prices didn’t shift (see the “[Bleep] it” budget). If you own stock in Pottery Barn, you’re welcome.

I want to be clear. I am not complaining. I recognize that I am blessed beyond measure and the minor challenges that go along with this adventure have bettered me. In fact, I feel like a newly-evolved specie of Susan. I’m actually attending a lecture given by Jane Goodall next month, and I think I’ll school her on a few things about primate adaptability when I have her autograph my book … which I need to find in a box somewhere. This utter control freak is now functioning in complete chaos; I have let my Obsessive/Compulsive Club card lapse, because I don’t actually know where it is at the moment. I have lost my mind, literally. But I’ve gained an appreciation for a new way of existing. Call me Laird Hamilton, for now, I surf … not waves, but life. Sometimes you can’t fight a situation, you just have to attempt a graceful navigation and get through to the other side. And who knows? Maybe the ride will take you somewhere wonderful. Personally, I’d love it if it led to a kitchen with a working faucet. But I’m good either way … really.


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