People are always asking me: Hey, Jon Spruce, when you gonna settle down?
Yo, baby, it’s not your fault. It’s not from lack of trying.
But I got to do it my way…settling down without settling at all.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what settling down even means.
I guess I was absent the day they handed out the long list of society’s benchmarks.
Does it mean just coming home to a list of errands? Does it mean spinning the chore wheel?
Does it mean just staying at home and saving the money and saving the gas and fidgeting with the thermostat while, out there beyond the front door, the snow is melting or the acorns are falling or the rivers are rising or the magnolia is budding?
I mean, you don’t want to give up a good parking spot, do you?
A few weeks ago, I got a good taste of settling down and I ended up stuck in a snuggie, addicted to bad TV, moss growing under my rump, asleep at the wheel.
But now I was on the outside, looking in. You can’t say I didn’t try.
A lot of times, I think settling down means staying put. It means people can make a good guess where you are, at any given moment, and usually be right.
On the grid. At the desk. On hold. Inside.
It means being home…which means choosing a house...buying roots, building equity and nurturing moss.
Buying a house? It can’t be as hard as I think and it can’t be as monumental as they want me to believe.
I’m smart. I can do things. I can make an appointment with some paper-pushing banker. I can fill out the forms, let some lending company go through my personal purchasing history, sign on the dotted line and then spend the next thirty years paying for my own front door.
That’s a walk in the park.
It’s knowing what I want, forevermore. It’s settling. That’s the killer.
Because, just like the trees, new ideas and new flowers blossom with every season…there’s always new branching to be done…there’s always new fruit to taste and there’s always old fruit dropping by the curbside…the colors are always changing.
What if…what if I buy that old ramshackle of a house? What then? I move my stuff in. I change my address. I fix her up. I learn about water heaters and garbage disposals and septic tanks, if applicable.
I lay me some roots.
I hang up my hat.
But what if…what if I change my mind? What if my mood swings? What if my weather changes?
It’s bound to happen.
I mean, you can always leave. You can always give up the interior occupation, sell the house and then go back to the reckless, heedless lifestyle of a tree-hunter.
But not really.
You can always come back…sure…but you can’t come back all the way.
Trust me. I know me better than myself.
There will come a night…an inevitable evening…when I am warm and settled in the confines of my own house…gently drowsing to the rhythms of some old adventure novel…and I will rise from my Lay-Z-Boy, startled by the sound of someone tapping, of someone gently rapping, at my city door.
I will swing the door open wide and there he’ll be…my old younger self…hat in hand…asking if Jon Spruce can come out and play.