The Rite Stuff

Rituals – we all have them, sacred and profane, profound and mundane. On one level, they give us an anchor to something outside of ourselves that provides a small degree of comfort. On the larger, mystical, mythical scale, they connect us to each other and the intangible wonders of life – and help us weather the more painful moments of existence.

Some people are quick to attack the rituals of others, seeing in them predictability or mindless action or a boring outlook on life (maybe I’m a little sensitive to those charges because once or twice they’ve been leveled at me…). But it’s only the foolish consistencies, Emerson reminds us, that are the hobgoblins of little minds.

Callie, I’ve been noticing recently, is not immune to the power of ritual. Every morning, without fail, she finishes her breakfast, goes to the front door, and cries. This is my cue: “Open the friggin’ door, damnit.” I oblige, even though for the last few wintry months I told her she really didn‘t want to do that. And the first blast of cold air on her whiskers seemed to convince her that, yes, perhaps she really didn’t want to go out there. Though the next day, the pattern repeated. A foolish consistency at work, perhaps?

Lately though, the mornings have been slightly warmer; or, if not as measured in the outside temperature, the slowly approaching sun is warming the glass-lined porch more so than it could in mid-January. So the stays on the porch are longer for Callie, and more frequent through the day. Soon, I’ll open the windows out there and join her, with the Red Sox on the radio, or just to stare outside in a moment of contemplation.

Callie, I think, will miss this house and its wide, welcoming porch when it’s time to go. No one knows when that will be. Last week we had the first bid on the house since it went on the market last May. My gut told me it was not a credible offer, and almost a week later, that seems to be playing out, as the would-be buyer has not come through with a pre-approval letter. Yet, anyway. But there have been more lookers, and another coming this week. One of them might be the one, and then my own house/apartment hunting will begin in earnest.

I’ve written before
about my not particularly liking the town where I settled after the tumultuous move from Chicago. And of course ending up here alone was certainly not on the agenda. But now, nine months in to having the place to myself, I’m comfortable here; it feels like home, my home, even if it doesn‘t belong solely to me. And I have developed my rituals: checking email downstairs in the morning; playing tunes for several hours at night. I could have cultivated those rituals, I suppose, when I still had someone sharing the space with me, and can certainly do them wherever I live. But they developed out of OEC, in this house, and they feel part of it.

I’ve even come to accept the stripped-down nature of the “staged” house, the items stored away or rearranged to achieve the maximum sense of “no one lives here, but you could,” that realtors seek to cultivate. Not in the kitchen though; the constant shuttling in and out of cabinets all those items I use so often is a pain. A denial of the person who is still living in these rooms, thank you very much. But it is not forever. And slowly, even the stashing away of processors and the toaster oven and assorted utensils is becoming another ritual I can live with. We are nothing if not adaptable, I see, even as I’ve often felt that the loss of relationship consistency, of my friend/partner by my side, was something that would break me forever. (I will leave to others to decide if that relationship, or any other, is a foolish consistency. But my heart says no.)

So, for now, the rituals I’ve built will continue. Callie’s too. We will enjoy the time we have left here in our comfortable home, the two of us. Knowing that soon we will move on. And build new rituals, wherever we may settle.

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~ by mburgan on April 3, 2011.

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