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.

5 comments:

Dinah said...

Okay, so once a year I bake cookies at the holidays and give them to everyone I know. This year, I baked cookies two other times at the request of kids-away-from-home (one was fairly directive: "I would like a care package." "Oh, what would you like in your care package?" "Cookies." I was told I didn't need to bake them, but I did. Aside from that, if we were locked up together, I'd be checking my email, organizing the topping requests for the pizza order, and sweeping up those damn dust bunnies.

You write:
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.

Okay, so how do I get to be there? My boxes, by the way, were all unpacked on moving day.

Anonymous said...

Cabin fever, that's what it's called around here.

Your comment about folks in the upper midwest cracked me up; as a non-native, I'm often surprised by how good upper-midwesterners are at dealing with winter.

Still Dreaming said...

I still haven't finished unpacking...and I moved in September Dinah. I bow in awe of you.

I am the kind of person who can't stay inside for more then a day. I have to go outside each and every day or I go crazy. More then that, I have to have interaction, I can't just go for a nature walk (oh how much money I've spent at the coffee shop). I go crazy, and I'm good at doing nothing, well, good at lying around and reading entire books in a day. I just need to be OUT. My sister on the other hand, I think she'd be perfectly content to stay alone and not leave the house for a week...

Mr Ian said...

I must disagree....
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.

I would scratch in public too.

In fact, it is more likely as, when you scratch at home all alone, you have to be sure of your motives first.

:o)

Therapy Patient said...

<<<...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.>>>

It's called "stir crazy"! :)

I was brought up in Buffalo, NY and we NEVER stayed inside when we were "snowed in". As children we built snow forts, snowmen and had snowball fights, in college we went cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing (plus trudged through the snow on foot to visit friends) and the adults would go out every once in a while to dig out the car and shovel the driveway & walkways so it wouldn't get to be too much. I NEVER felt snow bound in snow country (but I like California better!)