From William Cullen's Journal: August 24, 2016.
It curls itself around me. It searches over my skin like a cat’s tongue: warm, wet, soft, and rough.
It is my first night in the Barrow House. I lie back on the futon in the living room, resting this journal on my knees as I write. I’m in the dark. Salem Electric apparently forgot to turn on the power. The living room is cold and damp from night air that penetrates the walls and the floors and the ceilings. My breath streams forth in a pale cloud that dissipates six inches from my face. Shadows stare at me from the walls and the howls of the coyotes in the thicket behind the house pierce the silence.
Even so, as I recline here on the couch in just jeans and a t-shirt, beneath the massive oaken beams that extend across the enormous front room vaulted ceiling, staring out the front bay windows, across the leaf-covered yard toward the street, I feel warm. Almost toasty.
When I first bought the house I was unsure. But now, lying here on the futon with only the shadows as my companions, I know the house I made the right choice. I can really feel it. It is like a ship. A big, in some ways outdated, unwieldy ship, but a comforting one, where the body can rest while the mind travels and traverses great challenges. Here I will embark on my true journey of discovery.
This past month or so, since I was offered the job, has been frantic. Packing up my apartment in Delaware. I had to rush to finish my dissertation, and then complete rewrites required by the dissertation committee.
Now, I feel safe, still. The cold, the damp, the baying of the coyotes in the thicket behind the house are all somehow exterior, as if the house has cloaked me. I am insulated within its folds.
The place is oddly full. Not with things. I don’t have very many things. I didn’t have much furniture to bring from Delaware, and I haven’t had time to think about buying the furniture and objects to fill even some of the rooms. But the house feels full of not things, but time. As if the experiences and lives of past owners had already shaped this place, making it less malleable to my own will and perceptions. As if there were an inertia to overcome before I could fully make it mine, and make it part of me.
Tomorrow, I will unpack. If I think about it too much I start to feel anxious. The idea of unpacking leads to thoughts and worry over remodeling the place, over my studies, over teaching at Salem State, and then my thoughts spiral.
For now, I must let myself relax here with my new home. I must unfold into its soft warm cloak.