Meanwhile, back home, something is happening between those two dogs. They could be biting each other, or stretching up onto the counter to leave tooth-marks in the butter. Meanwhile, back home, something is cooking. It could be the thing you knew you were making for dinner, or it could be the unforeseen results of actions undertaken long ago. It could be that old container of power-kraut on the lower shelf in the fridge, reaching ferment escape velocity, and oozing its way free, among the jars of condiments and bags of greens. It could be all the questions you’ve not known to ask, not dared to feel. It could be today’s sense of isolation, with a side of sore throat. Meanwhile, back home, everything you’ve not had the heart to sort, everything you’ve acquired lightly and not resolved, is sitting in boxes that also contain the socks you want to wear today. It’s slowly filling up the attic, and the basement, and even though you’ve read Marie Kondo, you know the day when you have the time to deal with any of this is not dawning anytime soon. Meanwhile, back home, a sort of insulation layer made of stuff is keeping things from crashing into each other, or making too loud a noise.
Meanwhile, back home, four different kinds of raspberries are thriving, and the rhubarb is neck-high, with wild lacework flowers collapsing onto huge, shiny leaves. It's all so lush that you burst out laughing to see it all, leaning lavishly in the direction of chaos.
Meanwhile, back home, another woodchuck has moved in under the studio, and no one’s yet taken the time to go pee on his hole, inviting him, meanwhile, to make a home elsewhere. The tables and chairs in there still look a lot like they did a couple of weeks ago. Nothing much has happened, and yet now, when the dogs are in there, they listen for the woodchuck’s subterranean doings, beneath the paint-stained, dusty concrete.
Meanwhile, back home, I wonder about home as a real possibility in this world. Is it even possible to be met completely by someone else? Is wishing to be met completely by someone else the best way, meanwhile, to have no home? I get out of bed late, still tired from my long airport purgatory, still tired from so much Internet consumption in unwanted places. A friend sends me the name and title of a book addressed to men, to tell them how to be men. Apparently, it involves blooming women and the world into being. I’m very glad not to be, meanwhile, at home with someone whose conception of himself, women, and the world subscribes to this mythology. There are women, yes, who want to be “bloomed into life” at the end of some man’s cock, but I am not one of them. I prefer, in these arrangements, the dancing dakini’s staff. Here is my masculine. Here is my feminine. Here we are, at home.
Meanwhile, back home, I am still making piles of this and that, which clutter the kitchen table, and the need to be moved, so we can eat. Being in graduate school this time around involves so many books. Taken individually, I could enjoy most of them, but in their waves, I realize I see them like weird beaching creatures, flopping in heaps here and there. I would like a book-free life for a few months or years – a chance for all those words to settle in and down and turn into coral, moray eels, or plankton, as the case may be. Into beluga whales. Into sunfish the size of small houses.
Meanwhile, back home, each time I take a break from watching the news, something freshly horrible happens. Is everyone reading Zadie Smith's White Teeth again? Because here is a good place to find out about young men who are drawn into jihad, even though they grew up right here, and hand out Halloween candy to children. Maybe it’s not all jihad through and through in there: also, family. Also, girlfriends. Also, music, love of the body, love of life. Meanwhile, back home, we all could afford to step up our game a little, learning how to give peace and fellow-feeling the same degree of glamour that we attribute to violence and war. I love the new Wonder Woman movie, but if you look at how paltry the few scenes of peace are, you can tell we have a problem. What’s a little waltzing, to millions of flying kicks and sword-strikes? Meanwhile, back home, we need to remember that waking up in crumpled blankets, and wandering aimlessly in the garden is at least as worthwhile as kicking someone in the head.
Meanwhile, back home, no one is quite sure what to do about anything, in large part because there are too many things. Food things, medicine things, debt things, things falling apart things. When it's like this, it's hard to settle enough to do anything even moderately well. Facebook starts to have lots to say. Email about this-and-that starts to have lots to say. Meanwhile, the peonies sprawl unstaked, or they are staked, but there’s no string to bind them together. Meanwhile, the letter doesn’t get written, and the waves of books don’t get read at all.
Meanwhile, of course, the ocean is still there – the “show me your face before your parents were born” ocean, oceanically getting on with things just fine, thanks. Yes, it knows you really don't want to get a cold right now, and it would actually appreciate a couple of weeks free from problem-solving and being harnessed. It gnaws at the iron posts of all your plans, not because it has anything against them, but because it’s salty, and that’s that.
Meanwhile, back home in the body, there is the edge of fever, the sense that someone's turned the heat up inside my eyeballs, and I could use another few hours of sleep. Feet and bottom are fine: solid, living, and squishy. Meanwhile, right here, I am at home.
Julie Püttgen is an artist and meditation teacher.
108 Names of now