There was a pause. A silence.
Then I quickly answered my own question, "I miss it. I miss the house," I said with a guilty face. A look of I'm sorry, but I do. And I'm sorry for bringing it up.
It's been four weeks since we turned the keys over to the new owners and drove away. Four weeks. I have been trying not to think about it. Consciously. Subconsciously, all bets are off. Unfortunately I can't control my dreams and I have had some house-longing-missing dreams. In one we rented an apartment across the street with a view of the house so that we could at least look at it. Strange. In another, I was in the house, but I don't remember more than that.
Last night we were talking about kitchens and immediately I was back in our kitchen with the bright colors and natural light and incomparable views. How I loved that kitchen. To me, it was perfect.
I miss it. I do.
...When I wake up in the morning and try to figure out where I can write first thing. Because so far I haven't found the spot. In our house, I had my spot. I had my ritual. My routine.
...When I go to get dressed out of my suitcase and everything is wrinkled and impossible to find.
...When I climb into a bed that's not mine. Every night. I think about our bed. Our room... in our house back in L.A.
Usually when I have those thoughts of aching for something that no longer exists, I do what I do... I counter them with perspective:
Okay, yes. The house was amazing. Our life there was wonderful while it lasted. But it wasn't perfect. And look where it lead us. We're on a better path. We're smarter now. No, this isn't our house, but how fortunate are we that my family is so welcoming?! That we have a place to live right now? That we get to spend quality time with family, that we're so close to one of the greatest city's in the world, that we have a place to live rent-free for two years?! We are fortunate, indeed.
Yes, we have many blessings to count. And I still miss it.
Bob's eyes answer my question. He doesn't need to say anything. But he does.
He says, "I miss it all."
That gets me.
"Are you sad?" I ask.
"Yes," he responds.
"Me too," I say and then sigh. I put my head on his chest and listen as Bob says,
"Tomorrow's a new day. Let's get some sleep. We need rest."
So that's it. The secret is out. We miss the house. We miss our friends and life in L.A. We miss having a place of our own and it makes us sad from time to time. Was it obvious? You're not surprised, are you? That's the funny thing. I was afraid to say it out loud. Afraid that it would make things worse. But as soon as I said it, I let it go. It was no longer this secret sadness that I carried around with me alone. In sharing it with Bob, I discovered that it was already shared. And that it's okay to be sad. It's natural. And as long as it doesn't define us or stop us dead in our tracks, it's perfectly fine to be sad from time to time.
Yes, I miss our former life. And yes, I'm happy to be where I am and am excited about our future. I'm sad and I'm happy. I'm... sappy.
And that's just life, isn't it? A long quest for happiness filled with mixed emotions.
In his 1989 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, The Dalai Lama said:
"No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic human needs and is concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature."
The context for that statement was his people. Tibetans. He has lived in exile - away from his homeland - for 50 years. He still stands for the autonomy of his people. For the 'right to determine our own destiny as individuals.'
Just a few days ago in a lecture at the University of Warsaw he said:
"Freedom gives rights. I think you have to realize with rights also there is duty and responsibility..."
We have freedom. What then is our duty and responsibility? I think it's to help others. To recognize our personal freedom as a gift, to appreciate it and share it.
See? This is where I go when I'm feeling sad about something in my life. In this context- against the struggle of people who are not free, who are suffering - my sadness and complaints lose their power over me. I shift my focus from myself out there into the world. As trite as it may sound, "There are people starving in Africa." What am I going to do about it? Well, for starters, I'm going to finish my vegetables.
Now I'm not even thinking about the house anymore. Or my sadness. Or the fact that I don't have the perfect place to write. Or that my clothes are all in a suitcase or that we're broke and living with my family. It sounds pathetic up against something so real. However, it's still okay to be sad. Right? I think so.
This is my feeling about human nature. I think that even when we're happy, part of us is sad. And that's okay. Perhaps we're all just a little bit sappy.
What do you think?