I haven't been doing much creative writing lately. Being a fledgling entrepreneur seems to have taken over my life. Don't get me wrong, it's very exciting and our success makes me feel proud and accomplished, but my head has become so full of snatches of poems and stories that I sometimes feel like it's going to explode! So, in an attempt to alleviate the migraine I have given myself, I am going to take a break from baking and write down what is in my heart.
A few weeks ago, I did something completely unexpected. I answered a distress call from my son's baseball club and took in a lodger. I say it was unexpected because I usually tend to over-think things, but the minute I read that e-mail, a voice inside of me shouted, "Do it! Say yes!" I tried thinking it through, weigh the pros and cons as per usual, but I found I could not. It was crazy. Here I was, a single mother of two with a start up company and a schedule so jam-packed that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and I was contemplating leaping off the edge of a precipice and taking in a complete stranger. The truth is, I enjoy living alone - and by that I mean without a partner or a roommate. I love my children to pieces, but I look forward to the few days a month when they go to stay with their father. I need time alone - always have - to stay in balance.
But my inner voice was bound and determined to have its way, and the idea only filled me with joy, so I quickly replied to the request. Then my brain took over. I waited in agony for a reply, alternately worrying that someone else had beat me to it, and then worrying that they would say yes. I also realized that I had not even consulted my children! I quickly remedied that situation and they both thought it was a fabulous idea, so I felt better. Then the call came - a very relieved and happy voice, thanking me and accepting my kind offer. It then turned out there was a bit of a mix-up with the schedule and my guest would be arriving the following evening instead of a couple of days later. To top things off, my sister was scheduled to fly in for a week's visit a couple of days later, so my house was about to get very crowded! I'll admit I went into a bit of a panic trying to re-arrange my small Dutch house in between a plethora of appointments, but the boys helped and we got it done in time.
They brought their new American baseball coach over the following evening, fresh off a flight from Japan. They stayed and talked for an hour or so, and then we were left to our own devices. The first thing he wanted to know was how he could order a pizza. We tried, but this being small-town Holland, the pizzeria was already closed for the evening. My guest seemed like a pleasant person, but I didn't see much of him for the first few days - he was either sleeping off jet-lag or out exploring - and, except for the fact that my boys were sharing a bedroom, it was like having no guest at all. 'This is easy,' I thought to myself. In fact, he was absent so often that my friends and my sister jokingly accused me of making the whole thing up!
Then came the second request. A. had bought a sailboat, which he was planning to live on, but he first needed to repair it. Would I mind if his girlfriend came to stay so that she could help him? Again I found myself uttering a resounding "Yes!" E. arrived from Hungary a few days later and my sister and I loved her right away. This was starting to get fun! I loved having a house full of people, adults to talk with, and eat with, and smoke with, and laugh with - people who didn't only speak to me when they wanted something from me.
And then the bomb dropped. The next day, at noon on Good Friday, my company received an order for 800 more baking mixes than was originally estimated. We had 5 days to make them all by hand, the stores were about to close down for Easter weekend, my sister was leaving the following morning, and I was scheduled to have the children all weekend. My sister watched in wide-eyed amazement as I ran around like a raving lunatic making lists and trying to buy mass quantities of the supplies we would need. It was an insane week, but with a lot of help from E. and my girlfriends, we finished in time. We were all so elated that we were ready to celebrate.
Suddenly, I found myself going out until all hours of the night, making new friends, and throwing big dinner parties. I was exhausted, but I felt more energetic than I have for quite some time. This was life and it was Big. It was about so much more than family obligations and work obligations, making it through day-to-day and living for a few precious hours alone, or with girlfriends. It was about more than being alone in peace with my thoughts - deep and interesting as they may be! I found myself opening my heart fully for the first time in years, something I had tried very hard and failed to do over and over. And it was effortless.
I also realized something very important. Although I have always had bad luck living with people in the past, whether they were family, or roommates, or partners, not everyone in the world is domineering and determined to obliterate me as a person. Since my divorce, I have been very wary of relationships and have viewed the idea of ever living with a man again with great distaste. So much so, that I've been seeing someone who lives 6,000 miles away for the past 2 years. But now I have incontrovertible evidence that there are actually people who are as easy-going as I am, who are fun, and kind, and loving, and grateful, and who see me for who I really am. It is, in fact, possible for me to enjoy and even love living with someone.
My guests moved to their boat yesterday. I managed to hold it together until the door closed behind them, and then I spent the rest of the day bursting into tears! My best friend says it's empty nest syndrome. I am very happy for them that they have a place to call their own, but I miss them something fierce. It's like all of the energy has gone out of the house. I feel a bit ridiculous. I get way too attached to people! It's not the end of the world, they will continue to stay here from time to time and E. is going to work for my company this summer, so I'll be seeing a lot of them. Still, I'm glad that I'm overloaded with work this week so I can keep busy.
Benjamin Franklin said that "Guests, like fish, begin to stink after three days." I say he had lousy guests! I am very grateful to the Voice that guides me and I am very grateful to A. and E. and all of my new friends for this wonderful experience. The door to my heart is wide open at long last and I am completely alive once more. And hey, guess what? My headache is gone!