This train ride in is the last with powerpoint open on my laptop, the last with me in a flurry to get to my destination on time so that I can teach my piece. Today is the last workshop in a river of workshops and presentations so deep that I thought maybe I’d drown. When today is over—when this is posted and you’re reading it—I will be breathing fully again, and looking toward small joys that are next: a morning playing with my kids, a small trip to the north of the
In the middle of this intensely busy time, when I’ve been too often working from before dawn until nearly midnight, there have been moments of intense pleasure and beauty. Some of them come from living in this house: the sunrise-rainbow over the sea yesterday morning, the hills catching the mist in the rain, the triumph of a bunch of friends working to cut a viewing hole in the pohutakowa tree in front of my house so that we can see the sea whilst sitting at the dining room.
Some of the pleasures are about life in
And some of the pleasures were about the joys of connection in a space where, just a year ago, I felt very unconnected indeed. This week was Passover, and while I was away at the very beginning of it and then teaching at the beginning of the week, we decided to have a dinner—potluck, because of the depth of my other commitments. We invited the usual suspects and a seriously delightful new couple with two kids (new to us, not new to each other), and everyone said yes. On Friday, the Kenning Global group (in the Southern headquarters of Paekakariki) had its second day of the two-day retreat (nothing is grandiose about this—just Paul and Carolyn and me trying to keep the kids quiet in my lounge). We packed it up a little early to sweep the copious sand out of the house and wash the dishes for dinner.
At 5, people began to show up. By six, the house was filled with children and adults eating food made by me and others, laughing and talking and filling my house with its first real party. I had planned the house for exactly this situation—for families to gather and eat and drink and enjoy one another—and here was the first test. It was one of those moments of déjà vu because this thing that was happening was something I had pictured so many times. In my mind folks had gathered in the kitchen to chop and fill and clean and prepare, had stood and sat round the island to serve and eat and talk, and had gathered at the table and at the island, with both spaces feeling part of the same meal. And there it was, with actual people there, David eating all the corn chips he could stomach, Jim teasing about the garlic in the guacamole, Felicity and Paul finding a way to be both with the group and also out of the stir of noise on the couch in the lounge. The space is lovely—large enough to hold us all and small enough to contain us nicely. The kids could all eat and then head upstairs for a video. The adults could move around the kids and then spread out without them. The sunset could be part of our celebration, filling the windows and turning us all lustrous. The house, as it turns out, can hold quite a lot of beauty and quite a lot of laughter. I hope that it will have ample opportunity to be so filled.
Padding through the house in the dark afterwards, aware that Rob was sleeping in the bomb shelter and Paul was the first guest in the guest room upstairs, I had the sudden realisation that this house was, if not finished really, at least finally whole. And here, coming home in the rain at the end of this utterly busy month, I am wholly satisfied.