"2018? It’s hard to believe,” I muse out loud, half to myself, half to Bob.
"Yep," Bob says.
Mentally, I count back. Joseph was six when we moved here, just out of kindergarten.
“Let’s see, that means we’ve been here, what, 20 years?” I query.
“Yes,” he says. “Twenty years in May.”
I sit in the rocking chair next to the fire drinking coffee out of the small clay mug I bought at one of Elaine Graham’s estate sales. Estate sale management is a booming business in Oak Ridge as the old timers die off.
I look around the living room, thinking how much my mother in law’s house has changed in twenty years. We moved into her house after she died.
Ruth’s taste ran to mid century modern with lots of blond Danish furniture and white wall to wall carpeting. Now, the upstairs is more home spun with hardwood floors and a conglomeration of hand me downs and worn flea market finds.
It’s a good house, spacious, quiet, deep in the woods. Perfect for someone who, like me, needs solitude and seldom leaves the house, perfect for Bob too, a restless soul who can’t stay home. Removed from our neighbors by a couple of acres of woods, we’re still within minutes of downtown Oak Ridge.
We’ve been happy in this house.
Thank God Bob’s daddy had the vision to build down here in the woods on the edge of the ravine. I love the privacy. It’s secluded enough to walk around naked in the back yard, and on occasion, we've actually done that.
It was Seneca the Younger, as I recall, who walked nude for fifteen minutes in his garden every day, enjoying a ‘sun bath’ for health’s sake. Good idea. Even though I drink a lot of milk, the last time I had a physical, lab tests showed I was low on Vitamin D, or ’the sunshine vitamin’ as my mother used to call it. As soon as the weather warms up, I’m going to take a page from Seneca’s book and start taking some sun baths, in the all natural, behind the house.
It will, of course, be a few months before the weather warms up enough for sun bathing. If past is prologue, the bleakest part of winter, January and February, will see temperatures drop into the single digits. I’m hoping for a dry winter: no snow.
Snow keeps me house bound. I’m afraid of slipping and breaking yet another bone. Severe osteoporosis is the single best reason for me to start sun bathing and getting some Vitamin D. I’ve had a whole series of small fractures this year. At age 65, the good news is that over all, I feel pretty good; the bad news is my old bones are starting to, as Yeats said, ‘fall apart.’
Yes, everything eventually does 'fall apart.' Bodies. Cars. Vacuum cleaners. Houses too. This house in particular.
Bob’s parents built our house in 1963 and though we’ve made changes to the exterior and upstairs, downstairs has seen little repair and almost no remodeling. After fifty five years, the floor, the ceiling, a lot of things down there are literally falling apart.
That's about to change.
I’m getting new walls, as in new paint, next week. Also, a new floor, new couch and curtains, and I’m not sure what all. When it’s finished, we will, at last have a proper place to put up a few house guests (instead of bunking them in my studio.) I’m hoping our little house in the woods will welcome some visitors in the new year.
I feel oddly optimistic about 2018. I say ‘oddly’ because current events would not suggest a rosie year in the making, but on a personal level, I feel good about life. Not complacent or self satisfied, but pleasantly surprised to have discovered, at long last, that I’ve grown into a somewhat likable ‘Self’ that I could not have imagined when I was a depressed and self destructive young woman.
Though my bones are ‘falling apart’ and I don't have nearly as much stamina as I used to, I’m happy to report that there are rewards to old age, a genuine and easy friendship with oneself being chief among them.
I wish you a Happy New Year.
Be Well and Good Luck.