This is Not My Beautiful House.
Last night, at about ten after eleven, I reclined on a futon sofa upstairs in my home. (I should mention, I suppose, that this post has nothing to do with politics.) There are two skylights in that room, on either side of the roof, which cuts an angle off each side of the attic, giving it a tenty feel. I could see the oak leaves swaying in the breeze overhead.
The house is a 1925 bungalow, and it's pretty sound. I imagine that, barring earthquakes, fires, and meteors, it should be around another hundred years, easy. As I lounged, I had the distinct feeling of being a disembodied visitor to the house. It was there long before me, and presumably will be there long after me. My presence wasn't ownership so much as the strange coincidence of a number of random causes. Later, someone else will "own" it, much as many already have.
Isn't this the way of life? We imagine a more solid relationship with objects and people, feeling a psychic order to these connections. But really, it's just as easy to imagine living different, alternative lives, with different relationships and possessions. It seems my ownership of this house--which feels fortunate indeed--is purely circumstantial.
Perhaps it's just age. I remember the part of my experience devoted to possibilities was vast 20 years ago. Into each action I invested a sense that it might result in something wondrous and large. The road narrows as we go down it, and pretty soon our experience becomes more cramped. No longer do I imagine that an action may open unplanned doors; routine now saturates my action. Surely I will begin to look over my shoulder more and more as I get deeper into the second half of life, trying to make sense of the distance I've traveled.
How strange it is to be alive.