Aug 282012

Over the last ten days, I’ve been bringing more change to my home. I’m making it more my home. This is joyous and sad all at once, perhaps like all of life, when we really connect and open to it.

I have music again. A couple of months ago, I brought old stereo speakers alive, in my cabin up near Lassen National Park. Now, I’ve finally done it at home, and it’s about time. The story is kind of amusing…

While we were building our house, Nancy and I designed places for a flat screen TV and pre-wired, hidden stereo components all around the fireplace in the great room. In 2007, during construction, we had a prolonged conversation about the visible parts…especially the speakers. The TV has a recess in the wall, with a chase to a nearby cabinet where the electronics live, all nice and neat and clean. But good speakers have to stand out in the space, visible and audible, and we talked about it a lot. Finally, she agreed to simple black towers, from a design-oriented manufacturer so they looked good. I hunted on craigslist for months, and found a pair of beautiful Bowers & Wilkins tower speakers for a reasonable price that she liked. I drove to Napa to buy them, then put them into storage along with the appliances, the furniture, the bathtub, the rugs, the lighting fixtures, the toilets, and all of the other cubic yards of things going into our house.

A year later we finally moved in…and she didn’t want the stereo installed. She loved (and I did too) living in a page from Architectural Digest, a home that looked and felt like a design statement, without compromise. So I shelved my desire for music, and lived with an iPod player for four years. (Four fucking years. How much of myself did I abandon in this relationship?)

About ten days ago, I pulled the speakers and amp out of storage, wired them up to pre-installed connectors in the wall, installed the power amp in a hidden cabinet, connected the Apple TV, and Voilá, I have amazing computer-controlled sound. The house is different, my home is different. Roxy Music at high volume, Bach organ works, Van Morrison, opera, INXS, Grateful Dead, John Lennon, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Andrés Segovia, Morcheeba, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Tom Club and the soundtrack from Chicago.

It’s all ripping through my soul like a sonic cleansing.

I am loving this. My girlfriend watched me wire the bits up while she worked, and said she has rarely seen me so joyous and focused. It’s true, the installation of music into my home has been something I’ve longed for, for years. I cannot express the deep joy I feel as I turn the sound up, and open to the pleasure of good clean sound, exquisite performance and skill with voice and instrument. Hearing all my old friends, remembering the concerts. James Cotton, Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, 1983. Tommy Castro 1999. So awesome.

But there is a dark side, an ongoing pain that I know well. Any change to my home is Disassembling The Nancy Temple. It’s just the truth for those of us who grieve this kind of loss. Giving away her clothes, changing the arrangement of pots in the kitchen, moving artwork or furniture around, it’s all traumatic. The Way The House Was Arranged At The Time Of Her Death is somehow sacred. I boxed up her shoes and am taking them to a consignment store tomorrow. It helps to have a little momentum!

I have a new life that I am gently opening to. I must release her arrangement of the artwork and furniture, her preferences about speakers and stereo and TV. I get to reclaim myself. Dammit and Yay at the same time! Little by little, I am making my home truly mine. Morcheeba fills my sonic space tonight, a gift from my girlfriend, who is becoming a very significant relationship. The cats curl by my feet and sides, content with the changes.

Every change opens another little corner of my grief, which seems endless. Perhaps I am hunting my own pain. And…I long to be whole again, to have an open heart, that can love fully, commit and hold a long-term relationship. Perhaps I will never be completely whole again in this way. But I am sure my heart will be open again. I just have to disassemble the Nancy temple first.

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