I spend the next few days working to set up my space. A lot needs to happen, and it feels overwhelming and daunting at times. My room needs to become a creative sanctuary, the entire house needs to be livable. I need to find two roommates. I need furniture: bookshelves, tables, couches, chairs. The kitchen needs pots and pans and dishware. The walls need color. I need a pillow, towels, dish rags, sponges, hangers, cleaning supplies, and whatever else it takes to turn a house into a home. But one thing at a time.
The idea was to continue getting everything I need for free. That’s what I really wanted to do. That was one more way to hold onto the values and identity of my road experience, and I was excited to apply that sort of resourcefulness to life indoors. Boulder dumpsters are full of good stuff, and the free section of Craigslist is very active here. I show up at a free yard sale one morning and watch people barge into the garage and pick through piles of stuff. I make friends with the man who lives there, I tell him my story and I listen to his, and together we watch people come and go and grab without even saying hello. He takes me inside to the kitchen and fills my arms with crystal wine glasses he needs to get rid of.
But I can’t put everything on hold until I happen to find what I need. I can no longer just wait for things to come when they come. Every day that I don’t have a bookshelf means I’m living amongst unopened boxes which is not good for the heart. No table means I’m sitting on the floor and holding food on my lap. So I decide I can deal with yard sales and thrift stores as well. I wake up at 7:45 one Saturday morning to hit as many free sales and yard sales as possible. Throughout the day, I make it to probably half a dozen sales and another half dozen thrift stores. I’m in a daze the whole time, not used to shopping, I’m looking for furniture that I can’t even fit into my car anyway, so I don’t really know what I was even thinking, I walk into venues and wind up in the book section and end up spending too long browsing and then buying new stacks of books that I do not need and do not have shelves for, and at the end of the day the house still doesn’t feel comfortable to be inside of.
I am quickly realizing how much stuff is needed for a house. And what about everything that I can’t get for free or even for cheap, like soap? There’s no such thing as second hand soap. There’s no such thing as free trash bags. So the next day after yet another wave of yard sales and thrift store excursions, unsuccessful except for more piles of books I will probably never read, I am sad to find myself wandering the huge empty endless aisles of Target, where I end up spending $55 on things like dish soap, dish detergent, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, sponges, body wash, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, etc. On my way back, I get stuck in horrible football game traffic, I move about 20 feet in 20 minutes, it is the poorest use of my time I can imagine, and I can feel myself getting jittery and impatient. I’m impatient and I’m hungry. It’s been 6 hours since I ate breakfast. Was it really only two months ago that I used to pride myself on my ability to take hunger, and now I am getting cranky because I haven’t had my lunch yet? The traffic is making me grit my teeth. I remember getting stuck in traffic somewhere in Canada on the long drive from Alaska down to Seattle, stopping for construction that lasted like 45 minutes, and our natural reaction to that situation was to just get out and brew a pot of coffee on the trunk of the car.
I feel so far away from that now. I am impatient. It’s stressful. I’m having a really hard time appreciating the process of this all, and I just want it done. I can be lost on a mountain top bleeding from a gaping wound, or I can be stranded in the middle of nowhere on the side of a deserted road with no water, no money, and no phone service, and I’ll be completely calm and in high spirits. But trying to find a nonstick pan sends me into spirals of hopelessness and despair.