November 7, 2013

The House: Part 09: To Our Mandala, Goodbye



We sold our house to the first people that looked at it.

Eleven months of grunting and sweating and arguing and guessing our way through the restoration of an old beauty. Forty-one thousand, seven hundred and sixty three dollars and thirteen cents of our savings poured into every inch of our tiny plot of land in the city. Living an Indiana life that was the upside down version of our California life, trading time together for time on the house, trading leisure for stress, trading family evenings and dinners for Kari working five nights a week. 

And then, suddenly, the house was finished and two days later the house was listed and one day later the house was sold. And that was that.

+++

I sit here now in my living room, days away from closing. It really is a beautiful room. The poplar floors are something out of the old world, full of colors so rich and original that it's nearly unmatched. The ten foot ceilings have never become commonplace. The eight inch baseboard and window trim are made from solid oak and the curves and lines that make up the molding are incredibly precise and complex. The two pocket doors creak and hiss as they open and close but these gigantic five panel doors were one of the reasons we bought the house and they have captured my historical imagination ever since.



I see this one room and remember scraping the floors till my back gave out and caulking the cracks and meticulously sanding and refinishing all of the trim and I am not sad to say goodbye.

+++

The sand mandala is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition that involves several monks all working tirelessly and meticulously on a concentric structure, with no beginning and no end, made from crushed stones that are carefully dyed with colored ink. They work from the center and move outward, using funnels and scrapers and other small apparatuses to place each tiny stone in the proper place. Some of these larger mandalas can take a team of monks several weeks to finish.


When these beautiful pieces are complete, they dismantle them, shape by shape, symbol by symbol, color by color, until there is nothing left but a jar full of sand. And then, ceremoniously, this sand is released into a river or a body of water as a symbol of impermanence, a non-attachment to the material world.


We have often thought of this house as our mandala over the past year, knowing this would probably be a temporary home for our family. And as the months trudged on and the to-do lists grew and the physical and emotional demands of a broken house intensified, the more appropriate the metaphor seemed.

+++

I do not feel sad about leaving this house. I do not feel happy to leave it. My relationship with these walls is complicated and I'm not quite sure how to process everything this house has meant to me, both in the anger and joy and exhaustion it has brought. But as we pack our bags for California, I do feel grateful. I am grateful for what it taught me both practically and mentally, grateful for what it revealed to me about perseverance and grief, grateful that it has helped heal my broken heart.

And yet, it is time to move on. This place is temporary, impermanent. I'm ready to walk away, releasing it to the river.



8 comments:

Kate Inglis said...

I'm so happy for all of you. What a fantastic validation of all your hard work and choices... and now you get to wander, go back to friends. Congratulations! xo

Caroline said...

As a sporadic reader I'M a little bittersweet about you leaving. Because man, you guys made that house a home and it's beautiful and I want those floors! Glad it meant what it did when you needed it. Excited for the next adventure - as it seems there always is one.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I never would have guessed that you would be moving back to California. It is a beautiful house!

Leanne Vaughn said...

Hi Kari, I don't know if you remember me from SMCNS, but I saw this on FB through Colleen. You wrote me once that my words touched you and now I must echo the sentiment to you. Thank you for writing out your experience of complicated feelings about your personal mandala. I am drawn into your metaphor and appreciate your blood-and-bones effort to carve out the hidden beauty in the house on Fletcher Avenue. What a remarkable outcome for a process that appears to have provided an opportunity for healing. Best wishes to you all as you return to California...

Susan Allgaier said...

I had a feeling that this was going to be the ending of the story. Your family healed this wonderful house and in return the house healed your family. What an amazing and beautiful story. And your journey through life continues.

Susan Allgaier said...

I found this poem this morning and thought of your journey with the house on Fletcher Avenue.

“They who love an old house
Will never love in vain
For how can any old house
Used to sun and rain
To lilac and larkspur
And arching trees above
Fail to give its answer
To the heart that gives it love.”
-author unknown

::athada:: said...

Wow. I'll be thinking about the mandala for weeks. Wish I could've bought that house :)

Indiana has been glad to have you and you'll always be welcome back. Travel well friend.

Anonymous said...

and how are you all now?
and where are you all now?

when you sold the house, I thought
"this was in their control.
this great loss
(the dream, the work, the beauty in the end result)
was at least in their control... their choice, their intent/action."

unlike losing your daughter.

I think of you and kari often. from gitw.
please update?

Post a Comment

Slideshow