An antique Rosh Hashanah greeting card
An antique Rosh Hashanah greeting card

5782 is coming, but too much new is making me blue

A new city for my husband and me.

A new job for one of my children.

A new year soon to begin for us all.

Still, “new” is not how I feel.

Adrift. Unmoored. Those are words to describe me right now.

Instead of downsizing, my husband and I recently purchased a bigger house in his childhood town. He’s as happy as a clam, driving along familiar streets, catching up with old friends.

Me? I’m afraid of car accidents as I struggle to adjust to driving at break-neck speeds along unfamiliar roadways. Do I go left? Do I go right? Come on, Siri! Speak up! Why is WiFi so spotty here? Damn it! Speak up! Lives are at stake! My life is at stake!

And, oh, about this bigger house … it occurred to me last night — I scarcely make use of the space. There’s a “casita” — a separate little “house” — which once painted and carpeted, will be my husband’s office. Right now, it’s vacant.

The “main” casa has a guest room, a “billiards parlor” aka the room for the new pool table, plus a massive “other” room we don’t even know what to do with! It’s presently set up as one of those tricked-out big-screen media rooms, but we don’t watch that much TV. My husband says we could use it as an exercise room, but we don’t exercise that much, either!

Right now, the house is getting a facelift. No, make that a total body reconstruction! We’re redoing the floors — hardwood in some places, new carpet in others. We’re painting, too. And just yesterday, we discovered mold! An upstairs bathroom is leaking into the downstairs bathroom, which requires a partial demo. Fun, huh? More accurately, is this a case of money literally going down the toilet?

For some people, redecorating is enjoyable. A hobby. For me, it’s terrifying like parachuting or roller skating.

Besides, I have no patience. I want things done in a flash. Second, I have no patience. Oh, I’m repeating myself. Well, you get the point.

Also, while not exactly color blind, I am color anxious. Picking the right shade of yellow, gray, beige — or even white — causes a panic attack.

Since I’m clearly not the Queen of Redecorating, you quite logically might say, “Get a grip. Stop griping. Get out of the house, and do something useful for the greater good.”

I quite agree. That is what I should do. That is what I’d like to do. And normally that is what I would do.  Unfortunately, these are not normal times. We are still living under the cloud of Covid-19, and I now live in a Reno area where vaccination rates and mask compliance are problematic.

So I worry. How do I go “out there” when “out there” is risky? And if “out there” is risky, what is my next best option?

The answer: doing what I love most: spending time “in here” — in my writer-y head, putting words to paper, or at least, words to computer screen. Yet even that poses a challenge. Since my office is set to be demo-ed for the new hardwood floor and a top-to-bottom painting job, I cannot put my desk in place or unpack my books. Minor challenges perhaps, but they do mess with my “Zen.” And right now, I’ve got a yen for a little Zen.

But as I write about these short-term minor domestic inconveniences, I realize how inordinately fortunate I am amid profound, catastrophic, global suffering. In fact, the very act of sitting “anchored” at my desk — now parked beside the kitchen counter — has helped calm me and cancel that feeling of being “unmoored” I described at the top of this essay. I feel refreshed, ready to face the New Year — 5782 — with gratitude, joy and renewed purpose.

So, contrary to what I initially thought, I am ready for new beginnings. Shanah tovah to all. Here’s to happy, healthy adventures as we all set forth on new roadways.

Karen Galatz
Karen Galatz

Karen Galatz is the author of Muddling through Middle Age, a weekly humor blog. An award-winning journalist, her nonfiction and fiction essays and stories have been featured in multiple publications. She is a former resident Berkeley who now lives in Reno and can be reached at [email protected].