Comfort Food for the Heart


Knick-Knacks (Photo credit: origami_potato)

October 5, 2013

I’ve moved – sort of. One would think, moving from a small upstairs apartment to the larger downstairs apartment would be easy. One would be wrong. After ten years upstairs, I had my sixty-plus years of “stuff” neatly tucked away in nooks and crannies and closets and open shelves, in the wicker chest that served as a coffee table, the large popcorn tin that served as an end table next to my overstuffed chair and assorted other “cheater” hide-aways one accrues when you’ve lived in a series of small apartments. Downstairs, there is almost too much storage space – none of it configured in the same manner as upstairs – and, although I had help from my son and a couple of friends bringing much of that stuff down, (much still remains upstairs as of today,) it is now up to me to decide what to do with it.

I have managed to carve out a bare-bones living room, office area, kitchen, bath, and bedroom. I’ve made a start on the indoor garden room. When I’m tired, I have enough spaces set up, with enough familiar knick-knacks judiciously placed around, that I can sit or lie down and relax for a while in modest comfort. Whether you’re seventy or seven, that seems like a wise first step in any new move.

This will go on for a while longer. My friends are coming back in the next few days to help me break down and move the “library”. (I now have an entire extra room for a library, complete with comfy chair and a reading lamp. Oh, the joy.) My son will bring down the few remaining big items and I will bring down the rest of the smaller items a few at a time and rest in between.

Over the next month or two, I’ll sort them out, place them or store them, gradually settle into the new home in my old home and life will again be “normal”.

I don’t have much furniture; most of it was bought used after each move.  I do have lots of pictures and knick-knacks – comfort food for the heart when one moves as often as I have through the years. Each one ties me to someone I loved and cared about over those years and makes each new place home.

I think that important, especially in these unsettled times. As the Empire continues its decline and the costs of climate change, peak resources, political and economic dysfunctions grow, (and can anyone doubt that dysfunction after the spectacularly stupid behavior of our government over the last few days?) more and more Americans will be dislocated – whether by chance or choice – sometimes, calamitously. Even now, we see the struggles for food, water and shelter beginning here.

Somewhere in all this dislocation, we will have to struggle for something else, just as important in the long run – our humanity. We will each have to find our own way to do this if the species is to survive.

For me, it’s the pictures and the knick-knacks:

The little pewter snuff box, bought by one of my great-grandmothers at a world fair in the late 1800s for a daughter and passed on to me by my mother. I keep small trinkets from my son’s childhood in it. A reminder of my family and that my family is connected to other families past, and those to others, still – as we all are, in that vast family we call humanity.

An electric scissors, given to me by a boss (who I and everyone else was a little afraid of) after I re-hemmed a new coat for her. She paid me for my work; the gift of the scissors was her way, I think, of thanking me for seeing her as a human being, too. It reminds me that people are not always what they first seem, once you get to know them. Part of what we call the human condition.

A paper holder in the shape of a large wooden clothes pin, with a plaque that says, “I’m so used to being tense, when I’m calm, I get nervous”. It was given to me, during a time I was under a good deal of stress, by a friend who later betrayed the friendship, in a way I could not forgive at the time, in her own moment of stress. I keep it, not to remind me of the betrayal, which I now realize was careless but unintentional, but of the friendship, which was neither. Both our reactions, another part of the human condition.

Change is coming, as change has always come to humanity. We will have to adapt and accommodate, as is always the case, if we want to survive. The rich as well as the poor; the politically connected as well as the disenfranchised. What we struggle to keep and what we choose to let go of will determine who we become in that future. If we wish to remain human, we mustn’t forget that along with food for the body we humans need food for the heart, as well.

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17 Responses to Comfort Food for the Heart

  1. Beautifully said, Linda. I’m so glad that you had and have help with your move. It’s a whole life and memories being moved into a new space. That’s a huge task. Enjoy your reading room when you can pause. What a wonderful thing!

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Patty, yes, I’m a lucky gal to have such a son and such friends. And, woohoo, can’t wait to curl up in my chair in the reading room this winter. 😀 Wonderful, indeed.

  2. Moving is VERY BIG WORK – take time to settle in and i do understand about very BIG moves… i closed up a life and moved half a planet and started again with four suitcases.. the knick knacks and books came later. When some friends found out i was bookless they organized for a bunch of art friends to all send me a single book from their own collection and i started receiving all these packages. It certainly brightened the moment and made me feel so welcome in my new home. I too treasure life’s little connections with people. Take it easy with the rest of the ‘stuff’ and look after yourself.

  3. Nadia says:

    I really enjoy coming here to reflect and relax. Your words do that for me. A wonderful respite amidst my newly stressful struggles learning my new job. Thanks, Linda and take it easy.

  4. Wendy Manson says:

    Lovely Linda. Thank you for the reminder. I hope you settle in very happily downstairs. Love and light, Wendy xxx

  5. jj says:

    Beautifully written and wise as always…glad to see you back at it!

  6. freethnkr1965 says:

    Beautiful and wise as usual. Glad you are doing well.

  7. graveday says:

    Linda, it is mental balm the way you cast a light on how to be human. I mistakenly put you in Tennessee; realized, again, you live in Missouri; but just want to say you share more than a border with Wendell Berry in Kentucky.

  8. expedeherculem says:

    From a talk I saw at an eco conference in Austin this morning: “You know, there are 40-year-olds who come to my garden who don’t know how to use a shovel. How the hell do you get to 40 and not know how to use a shovel?”

    • theozarker says:

      Pretty easy if you live and work in the city, depend on big ag and the JIT delivery system. Why would you ever need a shovel (except maybe for getting snow off your driveway). 😦

  9. graveday says:

    I guess they never had to bury anyone, heh.

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