Hollie Grimaldi Flores: To everything there is a season
The sun came out for a visit this week. I could feel the shift in energy immediately. Most everyone I met was visibly happy. A woman stopped me in the bank parking lot with outstretched arms. “Isn’t this wonderful?” she exclaimed. “Yes, it is!” I responded enthusiastically. “Finally!” we both said in unison and then laughed at the coincidence and each went on our merry way. I have no idea who she is. Sunshine does that to a person — especially when the sunshine has been so scarce.
I admit to being a bit California spoiled. Though I was raised in a much more severe climate, I have long since acclimated to mild temperatures and frequent, sunny days. Truth be told, I never really managed to adjust to the long, grey, freezing days of the Northeastern winter. Thus, my move west.
I have never been one to relish the cold. Even here, I whine (to anyone who will listen) about my home and the difficulty we have keeping it warm in the winter — as anyone who has visited will attest. Regardless, I must remember my good fortune. Not only do I have a place to live, I have one large enough to be impossible to heat.
I cannot help thinking about those without a place to go and how difficult it seems to be to find housing that is affordable. It seems likely that sharing space is going to become increasingly the norm. And maybe that is not such a bad thing.
I have lived with someone else for most of my life. It has been over three decades since I lived alone, and it only lasted a year. I had a cute basement apartment in a friend’s aunt’s house just outside of Syracuse, New York. It, too, was a bit chilly in the winter, but it was all mine. When I came home, things were exactly as I had left them. Nothing disappeared out of the refrigerator. Towels did not mysteriously appear on my bathroom floor. I did not trip over anyone else’s shoes left in front of the stairs. No one was in the shower when I was ready to take one. There was no negotiation about what I would watch on television or listen to on the stereo. Oh, those were the days.
Sharing a living space is full of compromise. From my initial experience of living with my family of origin, to a half a dozen roommates (or more) in as many apartments and houses, to renting a room from a stranger, to the first time I lived with a romantic partner, to my current marital love nest, there is no denying living with other people requires a certain amount of give and take.
I think back to some of those first shared dwellings with girlfriends and our sparse, mismatched, furniture. Moving was so simple — a suitcase, a couple of boxes and one load in a pick-up truck was about all it took. But even in those early days, there was a bit of negotiation involved, from who got what room, to the placement of art (aka posters and tapestries) on the walls, to how many people were hanging around the place, to how late or how early we were making too much noise, to who drank the last of whatever. But those early days of sharing space helped prepare me for the long haul I am on now.
My husband and I survived the hard years of raising children and I feel like we have found our stride. Certainly, there are times when I find some of his habits a bit annoying. I am sure there are more than a few things he would like to change about me as well, but we are committed to taking a breath and ignoring, or quietly fixing, the things that are not to our liking. We change the toilet paper roll in the direction that suits us, put the cap back on the toothpaste, toss out the spoiled leftovers, close the cupboard doors, turn off the lights in empty rooms, gently nudge the body out of a snore, fold the never-ending laundry, replace the last of whatever needs to be replaced. We pick up after ourselves. We let each other know when we use the last of something.
We did not do most of these things overnight. It has taken some time to get into this groove of cohabitation. We take a breath and let the small stuff roll away. We make the overall load a little lighter, offer a little warmth in a sometimes-cold world and brighten up the cloudy days.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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