That’s the size of the space I live in. It’s bigger than the 5-foot-diameter debris hut I lived in during my final year of college, and about the same size as the dorm room I shared with a roommate in boarding school. Those days I had a loft bed (I was, after all, a PREFECT—just letting you know with whom you are dealing) and an inflatable dolphin suspended from the ceiling. These days I have a folding mattress of which I am inordinately fond (it is red) and TWO roommates. The main difference between the roommate I had back in the day and the ones I have now is that SHE was potty trained. Also, she wasn’t begging me to tell her a story every five minutes, or buy her something called an “Execudent Battle Ball” (something, I believe, has been lost in the translation) so it’s altogether a different experience.
I love my little nest, it’s cozy and frequently candlelit and there’s a firepit in the backyard. My books are cradled in a shelf my father built by hand and the paintings I made, the ones that helped me struggle out of a labyrinthine, life-starved marriage, encircle me. My children, at first dubious, have come to love the intimacy of this place, the sleepover-every-night-all-up-in-each-others’-business quality that life in one room serves up.
And I love the sense of unity it gives me with so much of the world. I love the simplicity of being able to turn around once and survey all that I possess. I love that one bouquet of flowers lights up the whole place and that whenever I open the cupboard for a snack I see my art box and am reminded to paint...
Sometimes at the end of a long day I do wish that I could simply dump the children in their beds and shut the door. There are times I am so bone-weary that the thought of unfolding the futon, reaching the bedding down from the closet and making the beds utterly defeats me.
But right now, in the lavender light of dusk, with a candle flickering in the slight breeze from the window, the windchimes ringing from the boughs of the lemon tree just outside, I feel more content than I can remember feeling in any of my other homes.
So, 12x12 is going to be a little gift to myself, a means of practicing my writing and documenting a year of my life—12 months in this 12x12 space—that promises, at the very least, to be interesting. As in, may you live in interesting times. As in, oh, don't you look interesting.
I hope this is my final year in California. I desperately wish to go study wilderness psychology in Boulder. Or become a field naturalist in Vermont. Or a midwife in British Columbia. Or a permaculturist in New Zealand. Or rent a pony cart and travel through Ireland a la Vashti Bunyan and write songs on the guitar and poems to the crumbling walls.
But right now, I am here, and determined to stay as present as possible. I brought from my marriage a beautiful meditation practice that I refuse to relinquish as collateral damage; it gives me on the rare occasions that I allow myself to actually DO it a sure, strange calm in which the meaninglessness of all of my worries, aggravations, fears, disinclinations, deficiencies, and mistakes is as tangible and sure as this candle here. This room. Those windchimes. We are here to serve, to learn, to remember.
So, here's to this year, this twelvemonth, this 12x12 dwelling. Let it be a home filled with laughter and grace. Let it be the place in which I finally make of my life something good, the place I remember to serve, to learn, to…what was that last one?