Out of Control

Glass topped table. Silk plants, baker’s rack, an ancient oak-and-brass ceiling fan. Beat-up linoleum and bleached pine cabinets. The kitchen of the 90s.

All of this will soon be gone. The skin of our house—the first house my husband and I bought when we married twenty years ago—peels off like dead skin after a sunburn.

For now, we spend life in uprooted disarray.

Yes, we are out of sorts, off the beam, living in the chaotic dissonance of renovation. It’s not as hard for me to adapt; this is my life. It has been my life, from the cross-country childhood moves as my father chased oceans for his career, to numerous alcoholic-fueled “geographics” that landed me in new cities and never produced the anticipated fresh start, to two decades of business travel, and later, family caregiving.

But the rest of my family is a different story. My mother, disoriented in the depths of dementia, was never quite sure where she was. My father, who has now moved three times in the past five years grows more cranky each time I unpack him.

And my husband. “I don’t like change,” he confesses, as he searches for a protein bar on the cluttered dining room table. He’s like the pets when any tiny tweak to the routine—new food bowls, closed doors, that ache when something small or large, in this case and entire room—is inaccessible.

Through all my years on the road out of suitcases, hotel rooms, totebags, boxes and airplanes, I learned the necessity of getting organized and establishing a schedule. Immediately. Even if I’m only away for a three-day conference or a week of petsitting. It’s all about retaining a sliver of control, when it feels like most has been taken from me.

For me, this remodel is just another adjustment to the routine. I embrace and accept the bedlam. The kitchen will be done when it’s done; the contractor’s two-week project completion timeline a broken promise the moment it came out of his mouth.

Yet suddenly, in this tiny space I’ve been forced into for an indeterminate length of time, the little desk from my kitchen writing nook shoved in the corner of the dining room-turned-kitchen, I find myself writing volumes. And I realize the words have always been out of my control.

Because, after all, control is merely an illusion. A myth we tell ourselves again and again, to avoid confronting the ultimate truth as inevitable as death itself: we have never had control over anything.