Monday, February 24, 2014

ABOUT HOUSES

Habitat for Humanity Casita
 I awoke yesterday morning from a dream about houses.  There were a number of the houses I've lived in over the years and some I'd lived in only in the dream .  Each contained a part of who I am.  In a way they blend together as if they were different facets of the same house.

On August 6, 2014, I will have lived in this house for eight years. It seems unreal. My memory of the old Upper Ranchitos house is still so vivid.  I find after all those years I am still ambiguous about this new house, and have been from the beginning.  Why is this?  Originally, I just wanted to be with PQ and thought we could someday live in his house but as time went by it looked like that would never happen so I decided to be practical.  I always get in trouble when I try to be practical.  It’s a denial of intuition and I have always been better at intuition than practicality.  This is a life lesson that I may or may not ever get a passing grade on.  My early programming about the importance of practicality and ephemeral nature of intuition is still operating, even when beneath the radar of consciousness.

I love this house but it’s a complicated love. It was a standard Habitat layout for a single person and is too small for what we do in our real lives (small bedrooms) although it's adobe, well built, affordable and cute. Also, being chosen for a Habitat for Humanity home was a miracle, kind of like winning the lottery but on a smaller scale. . However, it’s actually a model example of what I do wrong to myself as well as what I do right. We are trying to fit our lifestyle into a house that needs at least two more rooms. Always my artistic bent has made do with a bare minimum of space that requires me to compromise what I undertake to the available space instead of the other way around.  Again and again, the house comes out ahead of the occupants and their purpose.  

First Taos Casita, Upper Ranchitos
The old Upper Ranchitos adobe also had a cramped work space, but to tell the truth painting in the tiny laundry room worked a bit better than painting in the small kitchen and dining room as we now do. On the other hand, I have truly enjoyed planting trees and flowers, making the flagstone patio behind the house, choosing my own curtains and paint, putting tools, and gardening supplies in my first garage.  The yard is a bit small to accommodate an adequate tool shed for the contents now in the garage, which would free it to be a workspace, and anyway we don’t have extra money for a tool shed.  We are usually operating on a bare survival base with no room for extras while crossing our fingers in precarious faith that there will be no expensive emergencies.  I can look backward and recognize the source of this programed pattern but it’s amazing how long it takes to wake up, and then it comes only one eyelash at a time.  

In the Jungian style of dream interpretation, a house represents the incarnated self. Since I believe that life is a dream, this would make my house the degree and quality of incarnation that I’ve achieved, up to now.   Early on, I learned to be small. It was a form of protection.  Nobody took me seriously so I could go on my way with minimum interference. However, it is also confining. I’m not essentially small or invisible. Oops! I let the cat out of the bag.  This may also be a reason that I have an ongoing issue with weight. I don’t get seriously obese but I never get slender either. Instead, I go back and forth, gaining and losing the same five pounds for decades. The perfect weight and the perfect house are always beckoning on the Western horizon. Arizona is also west and that would be nice.

Cottonwood Arizona Casita
When I imagine the house we would like in Arizona, I feel a bit ungrateful. I was the oldest person and the only single person without children chosen by Habitat. Taos is our beloved hometown, how could we ever leave and I don't believe we could permanently.  But, Arizona is home as well.  Somehow, they work well together in our system. Everyone who lives in Taos needs to get away now and then.  Living in Taos can be like dancing on quick sand. You grow tired and begin to sink.  A break in environment can restore sanity and faith.
 I’ve learned that a great piece of luck, such as winning a prize or a house can be the kind of rich ego food that will make you sick. Even if it doesn’t make you sick, it may move you slightly off course because you keep telling yourself that you are really lucky and should be grateful. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” as the saying goes. As I approached retirement age, I realized that paying rent on the Upper Ranchitos house would be much like treading water, I wouldn’t drown but I wouldn’t get anywhere either and it gets harder with time. Besides, my landlord had recently retired and was getting restless to start another project, which he hinted might be tearing down the house and rebuilding. I knew that finding another house in Taos with rent I could cope with would be impossible.  The Habitat for Humanity solution arose and it seemed like cosmic intervention.

I’m not saying that I did the wrong thing, but rather that every decision brings with it complications that we don’t expect. And, if you feel some hesitation or lack of enthusiasm for a piece of “good luck” it is a strong indication that there is something going on that you can’t see but you can’t dismiss either. Good luck or any kind of luck brings up the “Maybe” story. I’ve used this story in previous blogs but here it is again:

“There once were two old farmers who had a fence between their property.  Every morning farmer A would meet farmer B at the fence and they would exchange news and gossip, as neighbors do.  One day farmer B’s best horse jumped the fence and ran away in pursuit of a band of wild horses. Upon hearing the news, farmer A came to visit. “Such bad luck,” he said sympathetically. “Maybe,” farmer B replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbor exclaimed, now you have four horses and they look young and strong.  “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son decided to train one of the untamed horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg.  Knowing that farmer B was getting old and needed his son’s help, the neighbor came to offer his sympathy on this misfortune. “I’m so sorry those wild horses were bad luck after all”, he exclaimed. “Maybe,” answered farmer B.  Very soon after this misfortune, two military officials came to the village looking for young men to draft into the army. Seeing that the old farmer’s son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. Farmer A congratulated farmer B on how well things had turned out after all. “Your son would be drafted and you’d never have any help on your farm if his leg had not been broken,” said farmer A.  “Maybe,” said farmer B. An so the story goes…

Last Casita in Denver
For instance, everyone that knew us would agree that my first marriage was a disaster, but I recognize more than one layer of reality. It was definitely the most intense learning experience of my life.  It stripped me of all I had worked and hoped for and yet there were good times too. Hope is an unreliable guide. In Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan’s terms, my ex was a worthy adversary. I nearly lost everything but finally acquired Taos, my husband PQ and the life I had been seeking from the beginning.  Without someone to pull me clean off the stage of the familiar drama, I probably would still be fooling myself about what was really important to me. Nevertheless, it scares me a bit to think about why I may be writing this even though I know the next episode will come whether or not I’m comfortable with it. In a way, it’s a sign that I’ve been accepted for graduate school, maybe.