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  • Zibby Wilder

House Bound


I am remiss! It has been four long months since I did any sharing here but, you see, I got house-bound.

Being a writer means being ok with house-bound. You put your head down and do the work you promised to do. But then you need a break from the work you want, and need, to do.

Especially when your work happens from a chair. In front of a screen. On a desk. In your bedroom. Not in a coffee shop (too much caffeine!). Not at a cafe (too much people watching!). Not on a plane (too many elbows!). Not in a home office with windows open to the salty beach air and exuberant exhalations of passing Humpback whales (doesn't exist! Or...does it???)

House-bound got its hold on me. So, I left. I left to see the Guggenheim in Bilbao. I left to put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean in Porto. I left to eat pintxos and drink txakoli in San Sebastian. I left to spend some time in places I write stories about. I left to reconnect with friends. I left to open my eyes wider, to fill my head with more, to taste new flavors, to hear new words, to fulfill long-held curiosity, to people-watch to my heart's content. I left so I could come back with more.


And now that I am back at it, reading through the lives of others, I find that the result of being house-bound is worth the bondage. Because being house-bound leads to a special sort of desperation. When you give in to house-bound and get out, you come back with better. You come back with more ideas, more clarity, more getting out. It's the best vicious circle. It's one Maria Chabot and Georgia O'Keeffe knew well...

"We get “house bound”, we need to be under the open sky in the farther faraway...Shall we go to the Black Place? We shall! I go to Abiquiu to get drinking water, I load sleeping bags and camp gear in the wagon. Georgia follows with paint box, sketched canvas. Only once I forgot salt and we were a week without it. She kidded me about this for years later. The mood is wonderful. Even the cat gets into the truck and settles in the grub box without either of us grumbling about it.

As we drive the rough road to Coyote, Youngsville, Gallina – rattled with summer rain – I want to sing. I don’t. We talk about the Pedernal changing shape - the clean edge, of the mesa, the cliffs retreating and forest beginning. Behind us is the struggle we have left. Just as Kandinsky wrote – and that before I was born and O’Keeffe had absorbed: “self-sacrifice, mutual help, lofty thoughts, love, unselfishness, joy in the success of others, humanity, partners, are the elements which destroy [the converse] just as the sun destroys microbes and restores the atmosphere to purity.”

We would have plenty of sun in the days ahead – without shade of any kind in that most elemental and hostile environment – the Black Place. But it fed us both peace and brought forth beautiful paintings."

-- Maria Chabot, 1942


O'Keeffe camping at the Black Place. Photo by Maria Chabot. Courtesy, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and Research Center

House-bound led Georgia to create some of her most celebrated paintings. It also allowed these two friends to re-connect. Being house-bound sucks while you're in its grip, but what comes of it is nothing short of miraculous. Amazing what a "breath of fresh air" can do for a creative mind, right?

But now, it is 94 degrees outside and my old house knows nothing of air conditioning. So, against my nature, I close it up to let its old bones radiate their cool. And I sit here and write to you. Happily house-bound.


#geogiaokeeffe #mariachabot #santafe #artist #newmexico #theblackplace #travel

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