“This is the beginning of all things — count your blessings, live your life, and be kind to those who need you. If someone, if anyone, crosses your threshold, treat him as you would yourself, for in this you will be rewarded.” ~Theodicus
We have overstayed our welcome. Of course that would have also been true the first week we moved in. It wouldn’t have been so obvious then, of course, because there were smiles and greetings, a sense that it was a new beginning. It would have been believable too, if the signs hadn’t been there beneath the surface of such fake platitudes. Because for every grand show there is always some minor slip-up that tips the audience off, if they’re paying attention.
That first week was a whirlwind of activity, with boxes and furniture being moved in, with saying goodbyes to our former house and saying hello to what we hoped would only be six to eight months here. How absolutely naive we were. Someone once said that you can live through anything, that it only makes you stronger, and I believed it that first week, despite the cracks in the facade that were already evident to those looking for them.
And I gave myself over to it, the feeling that we could make it here, the optimism that always characterizes failed enterprises. I knew it wouldn’t be all peaches and cream, but perhaps if I could hide away somewhere in the house I wouldn’t be noticed. And if I couldn’t be noticed, I couldn’t be judged. How incredibly naive I was. Because the judging isn’t in the actuality of what is being done, but is instead in the brain of the person being judgmental. I could have become a ghost and I would be judged for my shadow.
Oh, and those six to eight months that we so hoped for, that I so hoped for, have long since become what will eventually amount to eighteen. My gray hairs have multiplied exponentially the longer we’ve been here, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. It’s like this environment has affected every single fiber of my being in a negative way. I shouldn’t dread coming back here, to what is essentially my “temporary home.” I shouldn’t hold my breath every day and hope there is no blowup, no sideways glance, no hemming and hawing over whatever I’ve done or whatever I haven’t done.
But I’ve learned from the experience. Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t all been negative. It hasn’t all been constant stress and anxiety, although I don’t wish this experience on my worst enemy. Even though there is a welcome mat at the door, I have had to create my own welcome, to carve my own niche into this place to make it livable, so I don’t explode from the exhaustion of being a boarder here. I’ve thrown myself into my creativity, into my writing, into making my own outlet so I don’t drown in this sea of animosity.
“We either find strength in adversity or we drown under its weight.”
As it winds down, and I can see a flicker of light at the end of this long tunnel, I know I should feel some sort of relief, but I know I won’t feel it until we are actually gone, until I can say I no longer live here. Instead I feel more trapped than ever, like the spring will never come, like we will be stuck in this unending winter for the rest of our lives. I went over to the new house yesterday just to breathe in its contained air, to feel more attuned to what the future will bring sooner rather than later.
So sure, I don’t feel welcome here. And I don’t think I’ve worn it out. I just don’t think it was ever really there in the first place. But that’s okay. Whole families weren’t meant to live under other peoples’ roofs, not for eighteen months, not even for one month. When you’ve had your own house, and you’ve had your own things, and you’ve lived your own life, having someone hovering over you can’t do any good. Being someone else’s boarder can’t be healthy, and it hasn’t been, not for the most part anyway.
And I’ll miss these blog entries, but at the same time I won’t miss them. Because when they stop I’ll truly feel welcome, behind a door that is my own.