Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Art of Being A Homebody


After Dinah and I got trapped temporarily at Roy's place I had this sudden mental image of all three Shrink Rappers homebound together in a snowstorm: Dinah baking cookies, Roy tweaking the blog template and me climbing the walls.

It occurred to me that we have a diagnosis for people who have trouble leaving the house (agoraphobia) but we don't call it an illness if somebody goes crazy being at home for a long time.

I know people who always have to be on the go. After a day or two of hanging around the house, or sometimes a few hours, they have to get up and move around or at least take a walk. They're out shopping with friends or going out to lunch or otherwise on the move.

Me, I have learned the art of being a homebody. It was a necessary skill in my early days when a really good blizzard could strand you, doors drifted shut, for two or three days at a time. I'm convinced that upper Mid-Westerners became laid back and easy-going through natural selection---anyone who couldn't handle several days together in close quarters just killed each other off. Regardless, it's now an innate trait for some of us.

Some people describe themselves as homebound---the stay-at-home mom for example---but I know from my parent friends that stay-at-home moms are rarely at home. They're on the road constantly to and from doctor's appointments, school, sporting events and children's social activities. We also now have the 'stay-cation', people who spend their vacations at home because of the economic downtown. However, even stay-cationers aren't in the house the entire time. They're taking day trips or sightseeing local attractions they don't usually go to. They're just not going as far as they usually go.

We've even invented gender-based words for being a homebody: women "nest", men retreat to their "man-caves". (I cringe a bit at this, with the implication that for women to justify nesting they have to have kids, or that men need a place presumably to grunt, watch sports and scratch places they wouldn't scratch in public.) But there you have it, that's our culture, and mainly I was just amused when the pleasure of being at home became a fad. My innate instincts had become trendy.

The key to being happy at home is to first relieve yourself from the guilt of doing nothing. If you look around and all you see are the dust bunnies and a kitchen that needs to be renovated, that's a problem. If you can't rid your mind of all the errands---the dusting, the bills to be paid, the unpacked boxes leftover from your move several years ago---it's going to be hard to be comfortable in your nest.

Personally, all I need is a quilt, a good book and a place to curl up.

And a good snowstorm.