Friday, August 31, 2007

Like Hippies in a Tent

There's a line in the Greg Brown song "Spring Wind" that goes, "We're a cross between our parents and hippies in a tent." Roger and I have always felt that line described us pretty well. It's not a balanced cross, we lean more heavily towards the hippie side than to the parent side. So, when I take a look around at the house we're trying to sell, I see where those sides collide. I often wonder what prospective buyers think when they walk through the place. The house is big, modern, and spacious. People have said, "Your pictures don't do it justice, what a beautiful open floor plan." And I know they are attracted to the very things that made us think more than twice about buying it. We always imagined ourselves in a funky old house, one that we would improve, but one that time would have already made artful and cool. Instead we have these stark white walls, lots of angles, and a cool that is not hip but dispassionate.

I have a tendency to build altars as art. I don't know why. A flat surface is a place for secret artifacts, found stones, shells, snake skins, and feathers. That's the hippie part imposed on the furniture. We have little Buddhas and plants everywhere. When people walk into our house, I think it must look to them more like an ashram than a home. It's really interesting because Roger and I are only constitutionally zen but practitioners of nothing at all. It is the ambiance of meditation without the actual quiet mindful work. Still, the house says this about us. I can tell that some people find it slightly off-putting. They look around like they are hoping for comforting pictures of George Bush and Dick Cheney, or something familiar like the TV tuned to Fox, but find only discomforting vegetarian cookbooks, incense burners, and Indian herbs. I suspect they imagine wild spicy curries and tantric sex under this well-appointed roof. Yikes. Run for the door, they probably laced the water.

We don't have much furniture either for such a big house, and what we do have is unconnected to other pieces in style, era, or fashion. There are no sets of anything. The only things that do match are the kitchen table and chairs. Dressers are oak, maple, and deco veneer. Beautiful hand-me-downs and garage-sale finds. It's how we have always lived. When we moved in, we covered the light sand-colored carpet by scattering warm red rugs from the middle east. We built our altars, smudged the place with sage, ripped out the JennAire glasstop stove, and put in a gas cooker with heavy-duty enameled cast-iron burners. We bang our pots and pans with wild abandon and cook raucously out loud, as loud as our laughter about how absurd it must be to walk into our house. There is a dissonance, a collision. Our beautiful living room has a step down to the tiled sunroom where plants sit on unpainted wood slats held up by cinder blocks. Seriously. Cinder blocks. We are a cross between our parents and hippies in a tent.

I found the cartoon when I googled Buddhism Illusion. The original pic has a blank screen. I took that to mean a place for the projection of illusions. I filled it in with this one.

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