It seems I’ve just arrived in Mashpee for a cat sitting job and in just a few days I am packing my things up and headed out, joining Jim at the month-long house sit in Chatham. The life of a nomad.
The house in Mashpee is quiet and comfortable. The large sliding glass doors face the rising sun that comes up over the pond across the street. Needless to say, the lighting is great and sun is aplenty when available. The past few days have been a bit gray on the Cape, but the temperature so mild, it feels like Spring.
I have spent my days listening to the music of Portugese singer, Amalia Rodrigues, known as the Queen of Fado. This style of music has come up twice in our house sit travels. First, our host on Mason’s Island sung its praises swooning in the suggested romance of Portugese sailors and the sea. Not long after, during our introduction with our Mashpee host, she queried into our experience with Fado, also gushing about this music that sings to the heart. So, it seemed apt that I take a listen; after which, I’ve not removed the CD from the stereo.
Yes, Compact Disc – Imagine that! As a fan of music who remembers a time before the reign of the .MP3 file, it’s great to have access to somebody’s CD collection. So retro, the familiar clacking together of the plastic CD cases projects memories of hours spent prowling FYE and Sam Goody in my youth. My host is a well-travelled biologist who has been all over the world and her musical taste mirrors that experience. Everything from Ethiopian Jazz to Appalachian Bluegrass to Fado to Chopin. It is fantastic.
The cat spends her days draped over the back of the couch or atop her perch, slumbering away, sometimes waking to saunter over and massage her paws into my fleshy belly or rub against my legs while I prepare a snack. “Oh hello, Kiri!” I say as I bend down to tickle her cute face, admire her pink nose, and appreciate its heart shaped patterning. All the while, she purrs strongly, enjoying the attention. Sometimes, she is animated and playful, dashing about here and there. Other times, she is hidden somewhere in the house, perhaps in the basement, I think.
The house is tucked away along the periphery of the pond, behind a network of residential streets so it is particularly quiet with little through-traffic. I enjoyed a run along the wet streets the other day, smelling the damp air and feeling sluggish energy drain out of my bones. Except for the postman who engaged me in a, “Hello! How is your day going?” conversation, I didn’t run into another soul. Just me huffing along the road, waking my body up from its running dormancy.
For this run, I re-downloaded the MapMyRun app which I haven’t used for a couple of years since I switched my focus to yoga. Scrolling through, I looked at my previous stats: average pace has generally hovered between 8 to 10 minutes per mile. One particularly strong season, I was running a sub 7 minute mile. Nice! But this day, was another story as I logged in a 12 minute mile that was particularly arduous! I felt like a heavy sack of gooey slug. I’m sure the bunch of carrot sticks with hummus I ate prior to the run, didn’t help much, I thought as I forged on, grateful anyway for the strength to be able to run no matter how slow.
With Jim away in Chatham, the space is nice but large. It feels like a bubble and I note my ability to spend hours alone with myself. One afternoon, I get out to Rory’s Market + Café in Mashpee Commons to pick up some toothpaste. The other hours I spend writing, cooking, taking care of the cat, and in my thoughts. I like padding around the house in between my writing. I feel like a writer. I am a writer. I think of topics I’d like to write about. I reflect on this nomadic life. I reflect on what I am building. I am building my voice. I am strengthening it. I am figuring out its tensile strength, where it flexes willingly and where it is brittle.
I notice that my experiences really coalesce on paper into understanding. Some people find discovery in talking with others; I require writing out my thoughts in order to do so. Otherwise, everything floats in my brain as these seemingly disparate glimmers of experience disconnected from each other. One piece asleep in the corner while another dances at the forefront of my mind, and yet another blows unfurled in the wind of a busy city street, negligible to the busy commuter’s eye who waves it away as she walks briskly down the street. Its presence is felt but not noticed.
Without writing, I sit uncomfortably and furrow my brow, knowing some learning has occurred, and that these experiences are all connected in some way like the Fado music coming up again and again, but unsure how … until I begin writing.
Then, the stories paint themselves with what I notice and what I didn’t notice, I noticed. The moments I am grateful for, the sensations that fill me with joy, or anger, or laughter, or tears.
Then, these experiences spill out of me, innocuous moments weave their colors into my story, unbeknownst to me stringing themselves perfectly together like a pearl necklace, until I see the story I am meant to tell gel together in front of me.
Here, I am guided by my intuition and living nomadically these days, my learning comes packaged in these perfect little vignettes of each house and pet I care for. Miniature stories like building blocks of my life take shape according to its container. On a cold and rocky island, I experience the soul of what is there. And now on the Cape, in the peace and quiet along a freshwater pond, a house where succulents and other botanical varieties spill along the walls, and a veritable tour around the world is displayed through trinkets, artwork, and books, I find a different opening of understanding here.