I’m afloat in my world right now, coasting between who I thought I was (married) and who I’m now destined to be (lots of things?). It’s an exciting, scary, exhausting, limboid journey littered with danger and uncertainty. Limbo – that’s where unbaptized babies were thought to go, in the Catholic doctrine of my youth. I always had viewed it as a crushing injustice, that a tiny baby would forever have to hover between heaven and hell simply because no priest had poured a bit of water on its little infant forehead. At least I’m moving out of my limbo.
In this floating state, I’m easily distracted and easily perturbed, often unexpectedly. I don’t know why this is.
Last week, I refinanced my house, which is very good news. Now it’s mine, just mine, a giant step forward in this march toward the true authentic me.
The next day I received two letters from my neighborhood homeowners association. The first read: It has been observed that you have an unapproved Black Life Matters sign. (It’s Lives, you idiot. Black Lives Matter. It’s a mistake that tells me so much about you.) I have 10 days or whatever to remove it.
The second letter: Please remove the weeds in the flower beds and in the driveway. Oh, bless your heart, HOA manager person.
It wasn’t the first time the HOA has contacted me. There’s the December letter a few years ago asking me to please take down my scarecrow (I put a Santa hat on his pumpkin head), the post-hurricane letter demanding I grind up the beautiful oak stump my children spent an hour rolling home from a debris pile (We moved it to the front porch and call it a table), and the letter asking me to stop storing surfboards in the front yard (They were only there for a single afternoon while drying off.) Also, I’ve had letters about dollar weed, taking too long to put my recycling bin away, and bicycles in the yard.
I usually just roll my eyes and do the bare minimum to comply with the directive. But this time, I felt stung, I guess because it’s now my house, my very own house, and it’s firmly planted in a homogeneous neighborhood where I didn’t want to live and where any kind of visual expression other than the American flag is against the rules. We moved here (for the excellent schools!) at his insistence, which I’m not sure was the right decision, but that’s another piece of writing for another day.
I was triggered. So I did one of a handful of things that help me when I feel triggered. I pulled out my newly fixed chainsaw and started cutting things. I trimmed bushes and branches, and then attacked the many palm trees in my yard. Those palm limbs reproduce and reach outward like ever-growing wings, and there are always some that need to be amputated from the trunk. I hate noise, but I embraced the roar of my little chainsaw, feeling the sound as it trembled through my arms and into my shoulders. One by one the branches fell, some green and some brown, some reddish and just turning yellow, dozens of them. I thought about lining my driveway with them like Jesus’ followers had done on the streets of Jerusalem. But I didn’t want another HOA letter.
As I scalped the final trunks, right before I broke the chainsaw (again), I found a little bird’s nest affixed between the shorn palm branches. It was vacant – I remembered the cardinal family nesting there last spring. But still I felt as though I had uprooted a treasured home.
I stopped everything and just thought for a moment. Then I picked up the nest and perched it securely back up in the palm tree. Maybe the cardinal will come back and see how cozy its home remains, regardless of where it sits.