“Everything is but a path, a portal, or a window opening on something other than itself.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My new landlord’s been great at getting stuff done, and he embodies how many men see themselves: a doer, taking care of what needs to be taken care of, and making sure everything is done right.
He hunts, fishes, rides a Harley, and won’t vaccinate, because, I’m assuming, Real Men don’t vaccinate.
He also put up bird feeders in the garden, cleaned out the wild area in the back, and he lets me grow anything and everything I want.
He informed me last year after buying the building that one of his first projects would be replacing the porch windows, “you don’t need so many windows,” he told me.
I’m slow at metabolizing input, I’m too busy taking in the stuff that highly-sensitive introverts take in, including remembering this phrase that for him meant nothing.
Read that again: he told me that ”I” didn’t need so many windows. Not that he as landlord wanted to create a better living environment. He didn’t ask me, the person who has lived here, who has told him about every quirk and nuance in the building, and who has made this place attractive and solid, a space that made him want to purchase the building.
No, he didn’t consult the woman who in less that six years created a heaven-Eden-sanctuary that makes this old, otherwise shit-hole building probably the only decent rental within 50 miles.
My commitment to myself while living in conservative, rural Maine must constantly navigate this area’s egregious poverty and thoroughly-entrenched-in-and-happy-to-be-so-ignorance.
Side note: I’m no longer trying to help others by way of church involvement or in any organized manner, as I had tried; we must all find our own way. My criticism of the bad is now a simple practice of what I believe to be the better.
Growing food in an obscenely poor area, riding an electric bike, walking-running all over, in an area where everyone suffers from every imaginable preventable disease, including covid, this is what I do, because I live in some of the worst of what white-misogynistic-American-capitalism has created for itself: sickness, ignorance, economic ravishment.
A land where dreams go to die.
Back to the main story: last week the windows went up.
My landlord hired the son of a friend for the work. Apparently, the friend has been pretty nasty over the years to his kids resulting in big problems.
The one son — I’ll call him Jake — is a nice guy, hard worker. When the landlord decided that I had too many windows and talked with Jake about work, wanting to help Jake and his family out, Jake proclaimed in wild enthusiasm that he was able to get free windows for the job.
Jake, too, can do a good deed.
So two men with big ideas and good intentions made my space “better.”
The porch is now dark, has small windows with bars, yes, think fascist prison, and I can no longer go out there any time and feel the trees, experience that oneness anytime day or night, oneness with the birds, the sunflowers, watch the sunrise over the road, or meditate in the morning sun.
I can’t take the house plants that suffer indoors through the winters to their favorite porch spots, where they happily take off for a few months of growth. Nor can I grow seedlings upstairs now, because there simply isn’t enough light
The upstairs portal between myself and the garden has been closed.
It’s a different space, a different vibe, a different energy.
There are so many things that need to be done here, so many, many things.
But I didn’t need so many windows.
I’m angry and exhausted.
Let’s be clear: I understand this change is the price of renting, for not having the money to buy a home, having chosen the long-haul, hard road for my life.
And I’m also aware that I may come to like this change, with time. Survival is adaptation. And I’m not just a stunning survivor, I’m a high priestess who invokes and understands life’s magic.
I also know that from this kind trauma — and this is a huge trauma, requiring lots of words and emotions to work through — regenerative energy is born.
But reality has nearly infinite entry points at any moment, and there’s one I can’t ignore, as I scan the headlines, my life, the lives and stories of my friends and clients: men hate women.
I’ve heard gay men say-write, “they hate us,” and I metaphorically rolled my eyes in silence thinking they should quit being victims,
I thought they were being drama Queens.
Today, I get it.
The ‘they’ are the forces that shape who goes into the room and decides on our individual and collective windows.
Windows are a primary metaphor for voice, decision, power.
What views we hold, what perspective matters, what we chose to see, what we chose not to see.
I want to be clear, also, that my landlord is basically fantastic. He’s no slum lord, and for this I’m grateful. He goes above and beyond to keep a tenant that he’d be a fool to lose in this part of the world, and he knows it. He was raised by a single working mother, and, perhaps, for this reason, he’s been dutiful to me, a single working woman.
But I listen to men, watch them behave, see how ‘their women’ behave around them, and I see how weak patriarchy has made them, how independently decisive and violent and ignorant they must be to be “men.” How many dumb decisions they make because they don’t collaborate or communicate, because their “executive decision making” goes willingly and strategically unchallenged in their limited perception.
See also, history.
I’m a survivor, so most of my life I’ve navigated around male hubris like all women, but there are times when it’s all a bit much.
In other words, these past few days echo the trauma of Hillary Clinton’s loss to 45, because this country preferred a white male wanna-be demagogue to a woman of experience and intelligence.
The light is too bright, the pain too raw, reality laid bare.
From one perspective, with these new windows, these ugly, rinky-dink portals to perception, there’s nothing and no one to blame; it’s simply change, it is what it is. And all is well, and I’ll adjust.
On the other, from a different entry point, it’s the same old shit: two men deciding the life, fate, and literal every-single-day perception of a woman, after they finish the job and get out of here, high-fiving themselves on their goodness: the landlord for being a good landlord and taking care of business, Jake for getting free windows and doing a great job.
And I’m not bringing up any social status differentials here, either.
If I were a man, this window game would have played-out differently, no question; and chances are, if I were a man living here, I might have been like the guy downstairs, 40-something, who smokes pot all day, goes shopping with his Mom, and never does anything. Ever.
But I’ve invested my time, energy, and heart, a very female thing to do, in creating a space that supports pollinators, our local ecosystem, the community, and myself.
Nurturing that space included a portal from upstairs, the joy of watching the robins play every spring, summer evenings in the rocking chair, I counted eleven bird species one languid evening, and knowing this property and house better than anyone.
I’m a woman, I create a home, not a house, a sanctuary of space, peace, open heartedness.
That portal was closed.
What does it mean to say that men ‘hate’ women?
It means we are invisible at best, and often to be punished, because what the hell. It means that our voices only matter when they serve the male principle, can be pummeled into the fascist-patriarchal world view, even the best of them.
Look at the headlines.
Look at the little tiny windows men give to women to look through, so they can be good and strong, and then they can be great with themselves and who they are.
My landlord made another throw-away off hand comment to me,the other day, as he left with a smile on his face pleased that he’s not a slumlord, “all you need is a man.”
No, I thought to myself, because we cannot say these things out loud and be polite, I need bigger windows.