I found this piece I began a few weeks or maybe a couple months ago and it ties in to all I’ve been thinking about lately: to a career change, a new path, settling, wanting.
When Petey gets all hyper and his wagging and panting get the best of him, I tell him to settle in. And what I mean by that—that is, what I want him to do—is sit still and enjoy whatever it is he’s enjoying peacefully and calmly. Of course, Petey is a dog and he doesn’t always get that, so he jumps and wags and pants and smiles and sometimes he barks. And that’s mostly okay with me, because I know he’s doing what feels right to him and he’s happy.
I’ve been doing a lot of the same sort of thing. Not jumping or barking or wagging, but running amok, doing, moving, and not sitting very still. J and I have officially moved in together. Her stuff is in my house which is now our house and her stuff touches mine and my stuff touches hers, and in all of this our stuff has become Our Stuff and our place has become Our Place. If we could wag our tails about all of this we probably would. We’re pretty happy, J and I.
For the first couple of months we tried to make what was once my place into our place. This has been very important to us, and we’ve worked hard to make all kinds of physical changes to our shared space. We painted, we cleaned, we rearranged, we organized. We created this sort of merger, where dog lives with cats, where girlfriend lives with girlfriend, where there is much mayhem, and much peace.
The past couple of months has brought us a lot of peace. We revel in it.
I was talking to K a few weeks ago and she starting comparing my story to birds. K is a birder and she often finds a bird analogy for whatever is going on in my life. I kind of like that. Anyway, she noted that J and I are nesting and that led her to tell me about raptors and herons and a few other types of birds that mate for life. This is how their lives go: they build a nest and settle in. The female gets pregnant and later she lays eggs and later the eggs hatch and the babies go off on their own. Then the couple take stock of their nest. They poke around it and rearrange things and rebuild where it needs to be rebuilt and they generally prepare for the next cycle. More eggs. More babies.
The cycle continues. Always the nesting. Always the settling, and then the mayhem, and then the rebuilding.
I think it’s a pretty beautiful thing. Two beings so caught up in life, so in tune with their own rhythms. The way K described it made it sound easy and peaceful, like that’s just what you do if you’re a bird who mates for life. You go through the cycle with your partner. You come together and create a family and say goodbye to your offspring and you take stock of your home and make it yours before you go through the process again. This is a life. This is what they do.
I think of my life with J as a process. I hope it doesn’t involve as much painting and organizing as we’ve done over the past couple months, but I know that it will involve mayhem and peace and rebuilding many times over.
We had a housewarming a couple months ago, and we welcomed our closest friends and our chosen family. And when they left we settled in on the couch and breathed and looked around at what we’d created. A home that is ours. A space that we both feel comfortable in, that we both wake up in and come home to each day.
But this isn’t about settling into a home. It’s not about settling on a couch next to the woman I love. It’s not about settling into a recognition that I’ve begun a life with the woman I love.
As K talked about birds and how they nest and breed and rebuild, I realized that’s very much what my life has been like—is like. There’s a building, and then an unsettling thing, and then a period in which I take stock. And then I rebuild.
I’ve been seeing K for just over eight years and in that time I’ve paid her thousands of dollars so that she’ll listen to me and help me figure out why these things happen and how to take stock and what to take stock of and how to rebuild and what materials to use and how to know that what I’ve built will be solid and firm and comfortable. And what to do when what I’ve built springs a leak or begins to crumble.
I’ve come to this point in my life where I feel completely settled. I know this is not entirely true; I know that I’m not completely settled, and that I never will be. I recognize—and very much am in love with –life’s process.
But here’s the thing: tonight, in therapy, I ran out of things to talk about. I came to the conclusion that my life is good, that there are no unsettling things, that I have no more struggles, nothing, really to work on. I’ve done quite a bit in these years and I have found this place where my life resides, where I am my most essential me, where I can be and am settled.
Coming out to my family was the last big obstacle, and I’m quite proud to say that I’ve done it and it worked out quite well. I’m lucky that way.
And now that that’s over with and the home J and I have made is put together and the dog and the cats are beginning to peacefully coexist, I am breathing and resting and looking around and taking stock of it all. I am settling into this sort of quiet contentedness that comes after taking on years and years of work on my Self.
And I know that this is not an end, and certainly not The End. There will be strife, there will be struggle, there will be reason to go back to K and pay her much money so she will listen to me and help me figure it all out. But for now, in this moment, sitting here on a Thursday night with a belly full of the richest hot chocolate I’ve ever had, I want to go home and snuggle up to my woman, I am content. I am settled. I am loving this little life of mine.