On Denning and Settling Down

Greetings, fair readers and fine! October was a really, really, really busy month, where I was out of town far more often than I might have liked, but shared great adventures and joy and it was all worth it. If you missed my writing, I did write up a piece on urban greening at No Unsacred Place.

So I turned 35 this past Friday; being halfway to 40 gave me pause to think about where I am. I’ve been going through a strong “denning” urge as of late–think nesting, but for the more lupine-inclined. I’ve been not just doing my usual “clean ALL the things!” frenzy that I get a few times a year when I do extra organizing and stuff-culling and such in my home, but I’ve been experiencing a strong need to decorate in a more meaningful, directive fashion than “Oh, hey, look, there’s a space on the wall to hang this picture!” I think part of it is because my best friend just bought her first house out in southeast Portland, one of those gorgeous early-1900s wooden deals with an attic and a basement and a cute little yard, and I’m feeling a little positive envy for her. But I think it’s also that I’m finally in a good place to settle down.

I moved out of my parents’ home in 2001, after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. In the 12 1/2 years since then, I didn’t do the usual “get married, buy a house, have kids” deal that’s often set up as the usual way of things. I lived a life that was more mutable and mobile. I never had children, mostly because I wasn’t particularly interested in that endeavor (and I didn’t have the means to raise them properly anyway), so I didn’t have to worry about caring for a helpless little human being or three. I didn’t settle into a single career because no job held my interest long enough to be more than a year or so of employment, and it was really just a means to keep a roof over my head, my computer, and my art supplies. I did try marriage for a few years, but we jumped in too quickly and it ended with a whimper and some divorce papers.

And I never bought a house, for which I’m grateful when I look back at it. Sure, I spent the better part of five years in Pittsburgh, but I wasn’t tied down. Rent was cheap, and I even got to escape to South Dakota for a span of three months at one point when my environmental canvassing job gave me the opportunity. And when I decided to relocate to the Pacific Northwest, there was no hassle in selling a house–I got to get up and go when I wanted. I was able to escape Seattle after one depressing year there, and a couple of years later when the divorce happened, there was no argument over who got the house. I simply moved back to the part of Portland I loved the most and started over again. I needed to have that flexibility in my life. I needed to be able to turn on a dime, pick up everything and make for an escape route as needed. Life was much too interesting to turn down great opportunities just because I moved too slowly.

But now, after a few years of being able to settle into a place that I love, to cultivate a primary relationship with a solid and loving partner at a healthier pace, and to ease my way into not one but three vibrant and positively challenging careers, I feel a deeper need than the need to dash off yet again. I’ve been in Portland longer than I’ve been in any other place since I moved out on my own, and I like it here quite a bit. And this place has embraced me like no other. I am home in a way I haven’t been ever before.

What I’m creating now is stability, at least as much as anyone can in this day and age. I’m not yet in a place where I can buy a house; like getting a dog, I want to make very sure that I have the resources necessary in case of an emergency, as well as proper day to day care. Where I used to leap into new situations, now I’m trying to slow myself down and be more careful about big decisions. It’s teaching me patience in a way I haven’t gotten it before, and while at times my younger ways grate against the waiting and the planning, this is all standing me in good stead.

But I give myself gratification now, too. We have a small apartment, the two of us. And for the first two and a half years it was mostly a place to store our stuff and work on our projects and snuggle together at night (or whenever the need to snuggle occurred!) But more recently this place has begun to transform into a home, a shared home with an identity. Maybe it’s been happening longer than I noticed; my partner seemed surprised when I made the observation that we were just now beginning to “den”, while he thought it had started much earlier. Either way, I’ve gotten to that point where I’m ready to settle down and make that den. We’ve spent the past few days cleaning and overhauling the apartment, rearranging the living room so it can be both its usual work space and a place to relax, and I’ve even started trying my hand at a little bit of interior decoration. (And no, it’s not all just some bones and hides thrown around, either!)

As for the rest? The house and the dog and the happily-ever-after? That can happen in time. For now, we’re working with what we have, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve left behind the semi-nomadic life of my twenties, the residue of a marriage that didn’t fit, and the frenzied dash from job to job. I’ve plugged the leaks in my energy these things created, and am focusing it here and now, seeing how it accumulates now that it’s not all just trickling away.

What happens when a Lupa makes her den? I don’t know either, but I’m eager to see.

2 thoughts on “On Denning and Settling Down

  1. lol nothin wrong with a lil hide here and there! 😉
    sounds like your life has been kinda all over…but that’s ok!
    we all live differently.
    I’m really young still, and although i don’t want a family just yet it would be nice to have someone to make a den with.
    I just hope that time actually does come. :]
    all in all, i hope whatever happens you will be happy and feel good about yourself.

    There would be no point in life if we were not happy, so long as it was not at the expense of someone elses’ happiness.

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