I’ve arrived in St. Paul and settled into the place I’ll be working in this winter. A sweet, single family home that needs a little rest and recuperation before taking on the job of rental unit in the spring.
The house is pretty much cleared of the stuff to be moved out. What’s left; a handful of boxes, some plants and a few wall hangings, sit quietly in the living room awaiting transport to the owner’s new home. The things I’ve brought with me occupy a relatively small space, leaving most of the house with that echo of an empty home.
When I left Philly, a story in itself, I packed to the inch and ounce of what the airline would allow for a carry-on and one checked bag. This means that eight totes, comprising the rest of my household, are waiting for me to come back and get them.
Currently, in the dining room, a borrowed writing desk and art table sit under yellow and orange holiday lights strung up for that faux-summer feel. My bedroom set consists of only an inflatable mattress and a yoga mat, and I’m alright with that. What I am feeling the lack of is a comfy loveseat into which I would curl up and read in the sun. Hmmm… I feel a certain deja vu.
The handful of kitchen utensils I brought with me, including my knives, peeler, and wooden spoons, did not include a can opener. Yesterday, due to my stubbornness to not buy a duplicate of anything I left behind, I used the basement floor to open my can of black beans. (Were I outdoors I would use a stone, but the concrete was actually just as good.) For anyone thinking I rammed the can against the pavement towards gooey prosperity, there is a better way. By using a gritty surface, like that of a stone or brick, you can rub the top rim of the can away until you see a seam and then squeeze the can a little to pop the lid off. For a visual demonstration, there are videos on Google showing just how it’s done.
There is something mindful for me about living in a house in transition, beyond the obvious benefits of a spartan existence. I get to witness the building’s personality emerge to the fore as things are whisked away. Soon will be the day it exhales and stands just a little taller, shrugging off the years of wear and tear as walls are washed, patched, and painted; and floors are refinished.
There is also something energizing about occupying a place between occupants. My being here specifically to change a home for the better, and then leaving it for someone else to enjoy, charges me up with glee. I feel kind of like a contrary caterpillar, especially when doing this in the winter. Within this house, like an already spun cocoon, I transform its interior and when spring arrives I will fly away leaving it bright and shiny and ready for the next inhabitants.
Yet another enjoyable way to spend the winter.