Forgive me if I’m behind the times but I just heard the term “Grumpy Cat.”
It was comically used in reference to Jerome, the guy that is known for translating the Bible back in 420 AD. I guess in addition to being a big-deal Scripture scholar, he was also a “Grumpy Cat.” That’s comforting somehow–he is remembered as holy, and he didn’t exercise perfect joy at every moment. That’s “good news” because I’m a bit of a Grumpy Cat myself these days.
Far too often, I lapse into curmudgeonly monologues about my life, inadequacies, and surroundings. Take, for instance, the 12-minute drive that I make every day. A description of my day, accompanied by my inner grumble, goes a little something like this:
If I make it safely onto the street, having navigated the curved blind driveway of my basement apartment, I hit the gas for a few moments of sheer speed. Using the force of the windshield wipers and momentum, I rid myself of the leaves that have stuck to my car, sending them aerodynamically flying over the windshield and onto the road which is perpetually under construction. Stupid leaves! Terrible road!
I’ve already gotten three parking tickets this semester so the question of parking is a serious one: “Will it be the unspoken agreement with the lot down the hill or should I push my luck with the nearby ancient meters?” I walk from my car past trim and polished people, feeling neither trim nor polished, and head into the building that houses my graduate program. Darn parking meters! Uggh, fashion trends!
On the return trip home, I often forget to swerve to miss the grand-daddy pothole that gets bigger by the week. When I forget—or when swerving would mean an unfortunate incident—my car drops into the pit, making a wretched noise and losing traction for a brief moment. Stupid pothole! Forgetful Mary!
I pull into the driveway, where the grass is always too long and dampens the hem of my plain black slacks, and lug everything to the doorstep. There I do the “door dance” with my housemate’s three dogs, letting myself in while preventing them from coming out. The dogs want to impress upon me that they are ready for loving and do so by a prolonged greeting of shrill barks that cannot be comforted. Awkward door! Hush dogs!
But, all of that is really just Grumpy Cat speak for, “I haven’t found a sense of place here yet.”
I’ve been here a little over a year and it’s true, this place hasn’t nestled itself into my heart yet. But, in committing to this blog, I’ve committed to looking for place, a place that I love—here, now, with these people who surround me. For starters, I need to get out and experience the unique treasures of this city this year. I mean, I’m in DC for goodness sake! Hold me to those adventures!
If only I could whisk away my inner grump the way I whisk away the fallen leaves from the hood of my car! But kicking out the inner grump requires attunement and awareness of beauty, which requires a contemplative heart. And so, below the inner grumble, I try to quiet my heart and attune myself to beauty. The color of turning leaves is gorgeous; I’m surrounded by lovely people. I am so blessed to have a cute, safe car to get me from place to place and enough money to stay within the socially-acceptable fashion range. And those high-pitched dogs are great for the occasional snuggle…in fact, their eagerness to love and be loved has been known to chase Grumpy Cat away!
Very well written, Mary. You have developed great story-telling skills!
This is lovely, Mary. Thank you.
Looking forward to holding you to those adventures.
It’s not easy moving. New people, new culture, and new weather makes you realize how uncomfortable it is being uncomfortable for long periods of time. I studied abroad in England for one semester and can relate. I look forward to reading about how you evolve and what you learn from the experience. (You can sorta blame the cloudy weather. That Arizona sunshine is a mood lifter.)
“If only I could whisk away my inner grump the way I whisk away the fallen leaves from the hood of my car! But kicking out the inner grump requires attunement and awareness of beauty, which requires a contemplative heart.” Love this, Mary. And completely relate.
I love the inner grumpy monologue, Mary! I have definitely been there—especially when I’m behind the wheel. The way you end each paragraph of the monologue charmingly reminds me of a children’s book. (Stupid leaves! Terrible road!) 🙂
Mary, I love getting to know you a little more through this personal piece. Ditto to Jennifer’s comments. I can’t say it any better.
You made me laugh, and that is a gift.
Mary, what I love about this piece is your honesty about being in process. There are so many people who don’t know where ‘home’ is, and others who just know that it isn’t where they currently reside! Your honest reflections about finding a sense of place will unfold as the year goes on, and I for one can’t wait to read them.