tHErAPEutIC

“Are you settling in?” It’s a common question from faraway family and friends. I hate to cause them concern, but I am not settling in. I don’t like admitting it because I brought this major change on myself and I want to be right about my assertion that I would love living in Minneapolis. I love Minneapolis! Right after it snows – it has already snowed hard – the sidewalks are shoveled to maintain neighborhood walkability! And if Lizzo says it’s “magnetic” and “really cool,” it’s really cool. But I am not settled.

I have a hangover sense of having no home. It stems from moving out of my Albuquerque house sooner than planned; staying in a Sante Fe casita (it was lovely) rather than with Albuquerque friends, as originally planned; temporarily living in a basement in Minneapolis; sleeping on an inflatable mattress after my husband and I first bought our condo. It’s a little melodramatic. The reality is, we’re getting the bathroom remodeled partly by choice and partly by necessity. Just as we were beginning to establish a sense of familiarity in the condo, it was time to pack up and move to a rental to spend the winter holiday season somewhere unfamiliar. We have moved out and into somewhere new four times in eight months.

There’s the physical sense of settled and there’s being emotionally settled. Too much is still unpredictable and complexly layered. I was working past the emotional crazy vicariously through the young kids next door, who occasionally scream at the top of their teeny lungs like they’re recording for the “Let It Out,” release your scream campaign of Iceland. I want to scream like that. Once a week, the woman in the condo above ours has a guest over and they laugh hard and shriek and have a raucous time. It sounds therapeutic. A mental health date. I’m envious of that, too.

I haven’t figured out how to cut loose to the extent of my neighbors, but a half-bottle of chardonnay and a good TV show can be a lovely distraction. Toss in the surprise of a house centipede racing across the living room floor at 1.3 feet per second – literally – and you get my husband and me joining in on the neighboring vocal expressions. It was unexpectedly cathartic. Tempted to freak and frazzle out, after a moment to regroup, I reminded us how we used to have frequent black widow visitors in our Albuquerque home. We got this.

I’m also practicing a tactic I used a few years ago, when life presented me with a difficult, unpredictable challenge. I imagined then that things didn’t go badly, because what if something I’m worried about turns out good? Last time around, it happened. Now I try to imagine an outcome better than I could script.

Ask me again in 2021. Fingers-crossed, I’ll be settled. In the meantime, I need to be patient with myself. And kind.

Let’s be kind to ourselves, okay?

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