Until a month ago, if you’d asked me if I consider myself a flexible person I would have said yes. In face, on some occasions I may have been too flexible, putting up with things longer than I probably should have. But there’s nothing like a construction project in your home space to test whatever good qualities you thought you had.
Ever since coming down the stairs to my studio on the lower level and being greeted by water pouring from two light fixtures in the ceiling, tests and challenges to my character have abounded. Learning to sleep while fans the size of airplane propellers ran night and day to dry out the damaged wood, followed by weeks of waiting for insurance estimates and ordered materials to arrive. The workmen have been as polite and unobtrusive as possible under the circumstances, but I’ve been relegated to finding workspaces in various places around town. A senior center down the street hosted our improv troupe rehearsals for several weeks, and friends graciously allowed me to camp in their spare room when the paint fumes and disarray got the best of me. I’m told we’re nearly to the end of this destructing and constructing project but checking in with my insides, it’s clear my belly doesn’t believe it.
Sitting in my upstairs bedroom, which is now the sum total of my living and working quarters since the floor refinishing crew has taken over the downstairs, I’ve thought of the quality of “flexibility.” Being a dancer I’ve always thought of myself as having perfected the ability to bend and stretch in many directions at once but this experience has been showing me, I’m not that good at it. Especially when the impetus for such movement is coming from something outside myself and leaving me with not much ground to stand or sit upon.
There have been some humorous moments. One night we actually watched television seated on high kitchen stools in the living room in order to see over the stacks of furniture piled between the sofa and the screen. I’m sure I overreacted today when my husband told me the floor might need one more coat than we’d planned on. I saw what I aspire to and how far I am from it when I read the late Everett Dirksen’s description of himself. “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.”