The view from my “she-shed” window in YD’s basement draws my eyes fueling my mind for the next thought as I write. The green of the leaves framing the red brick of the houses, backed by blue sky with accents of black iron fence and tree limbs creates a perfect balance of color and texture. In this moment I feel at home.
I grew up in a small farm-industrial town in the Midwest, and, like many children, was dismayed that I had been born to my family, confident that I had been adopted or mixed at birth. On reflection, I appreciate my upbringing. The child-filled middle-class neighborhood with good schools and a loving and extended family provided a healthy background for navigating the world.
Nevertheless, I was eager to leave the stifling river climate, small-town culture, and gender strictures of the’50’s. Living in the Chicago suburbs provided a good base for raising children. But I remained restless, a restlessness fed by the uncomfortable humidity and cold of the unpredictable weather as well as the suburban architecture.
When my tolerance for humidity and cold reached its peak, we joined family in Arizona. Living outdoors ten months of the year is the reward for two months of intense heat which can be alleviated with a two-hour drive into cool pine country. Unfortunately, as this year’s high temperatures approach four months, the heat that I could ignore while indoors at work all day now imprisons me in retirement. Although we live in a metropolitan area, the cultural climate is small town, lacking the energy of large cities.
Hence the run to Chicago, living in YD’s basement. During this pandemic, anything I can do at home I can do here except swim in a hot pool. Although limited in social interactions and freedom to enjoy the city amenities, I can walk in a beautiful neighborhood that beats with the dynamism of urban life.
Carl Jung proposed a collective unconscious in which our psychological framework begins formation in our ancestors from the beginning of time. The sense of deja-vu might be attributed to this. When we had the opportunity to live in Germany for a short time, I experienced a sense of coming home, as if connecting with my DNA. Although previous generations of our family were from Germany, I never knew grandparents to share stories of lives lived there, so that this sensation was unexpected. The architecture, food, music, and even language resonated with me.
Marva Dawn writes: An overwhelming number of us are lonely . . . we just don’t feel as if we belong in our place of work, in our community, in our family, even in our church.
How many people feel that they don’t belong? The use of anti-depressants, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and unhealthy food among other addictions points to a pandemic of social loneliness having nothing to do with living alone or the current COVID-19 pandemic. Might some be attributed to our psyche telling us that we are not in the right place, physically or spiritually?
The view from my window feels like home. So for now, I will enjoy it.