What are you saying, anyway? You have to scream, you know. That’s because a group of guys is blasting our house with high-pressure water to clean it. Occasionally, they get a little over-zealous, like a human hurricane, and some of the water seeps in and I have to attack it with a bath towel.
But that doesn’t matter, really. After all, my so-called productivity is at an all-time low right now. Believe me, you don’t want to try to do thoughtful work when a small army of people is battering your walls with water, adjusting your water pressure upstairs, trimming your hedges and painting your porch. No, you just sit in front of the computer and try not to get too involved in what you’re doing, since a barrage of noise is about to strike yet again and some new person will be banging on the door with a new problem.
“Ruth!” It’s Herk, knocking on the front door. Herk likes to let me know whenever something has gone wrong and there’s yet another problem “we” need to address. In this case, “we” means Herk and his group will attend to it and I will pay for it. “Ruth! Have you noticed that stone wall that’s falling down in your backyard?”
No, of course, I haven’t noticed it. What stone wall? That’s because I specialize in not noticing things around the house — almost as successfully as my husband who, naturally, is out of town. He calls when the hoses are blasting the front of the house and someone else is hammering somewhere and Herk wants to know what we want to do with the crates in the “garden.” I use quotation marks, since the garden area has been a dump for years. But now we’re having it cleaned out and buffalo grass planted. It might have looked bad when it was a dump, but rank neglect is a lot cheaper than buffalo grass.
“You should try to work here!” I scream through the phone to my husband. He reminds me that we lived in the midst of a maelstrom of noise in New York. “Yeah, but we weren’t paying for it,” I say.
But … we are having all this done — all these repairs and improvements, this ongoing sturm und drang — because we’ve decided to sell our wonderful and charming house and move into a downtown condo. I don’t think I could have agreed to this move (having long announced my intention to be removed from it feet first) if we hadn’t spent the year in New York. And noticed we don’t need nearly the room we have. And realized we aren’t yard or garden or even “garden” people. And somehow, simultaneously, agreed that yes, it’s a time in our life when we should move on.
All of which is why work is harder and why my ability to concentrate borders on the pathetic. I love the illusion of stability, cling to it desperately, and right now, it’s slipping through my fingers and costing us a fortune.
“Ruth!” It’s Herk again, with a new problem. The chainsaw wails, the water blasts, I traipse back to the front door. Maybe, I am thinking, I prefer the noise. It distracts me from the great and meaningful change we’re making, which is hard for a person like me who loathes change. I’m no good at dismantling, even if that’s what I’m doing. I want to mantle, instead — but I just looked it up and it’s not even a verb.
(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my favorite posts about pregnancy, War and Peace and looking busy