Buddha altar

Just like Clarissa Dalloway, I bought the flowers myself.

Unlike Mrs. Dalloway, I’m not planning a grand dinner party…but lately I have been obsessing about the decor and decorations here in my apartment. In the past two weeks I’ve bought three new lamps, one new desk chair, a full-length mirror, a new set of sheets, two new saucepans and a pair of new bath towels. In the past two weeks I’ve started buying myself flowers: last week, a single bouquet of daisies for the end table by my office easy chair; this week, two bouquets for the Buddha altar and a third for that office end table. When I’ve not been buying stuff, I’ve been tidying and cleaning, deriving a huge amount of pleasure from the simple act of giving away old stuff and shredding piles of old, no-longer-needed paperwork. Apparently it’s the season of out with the old, in with the new.

Comfort food

This morning I went grocery shopping and felt the same sort of “nesting” sensation I’ve experienced while shopping for housewares. These days I’m consumed by a curious desire to hoard and to stockpile, to make sure I have plenty of food, light, warmth and beauty around me at all times. In the past when I’ve mentioned similar bouts of nestiness to people, they’ve argued this sensation is triggered by the proverbial biological clock, but that’s not right. These days I’m not nesting because I want babies; I’m nesting because I want to be babied. My desire for wholesome food, fluffy towels, crisp sheets, and lots of sweetness and light comes from a desire to be coddled, nurtured, and protected. It ain’t about babies, baby; it’s all about me.

Nestled nook

So instead of calling this outbreak of domestic obsessiveness “nesting,” I’ve decided to refer to it as pupating. These days I’m feel as if I’m on the brink of some sort of unseen transformation, but in the meantime I’m small, soft, and vulnerable. So like any caterpillar or grub, I’m surrounding myself with a warm, safe, protective cocoon into which I’m retreating, alone, to await Nature’s own gradual and inevitable transformation. Drained from the final stages of finishing the dissertation and uncertain about my next steps (should I go on the job market? should I stay in Keene? should I pursue professional publication for my writing? if so, where?), I’m pausing and, well, pupating, waiting to see what kind of creature emerges from this still-opaque chrysalis.

Reflecting

In the meantime, I have a comfy apartment–my own version of a clean, well-lighted place–to retreat to. There’s plenty of light to read by, plenty of food (and wine) to savor, plenty of bright-blooming beauty to enjoy, and a warm, soft place to retire when I’m through with all that. I might have a heart attack when my credit card bill arrives…but financial shocks notwithstanding, it’s all good here in my cocoon. For the price of three bouquets of flowers, bought for myself, I can enjoy all the reflective tranquility I can stand.