What It Means To Be Home

It’s been about six weeks since I’ve been home in Montana. It’s good to be home, in spite of the fact I’m far far away from my dear one. Being here I feel more grounded and solid than I have for a while but at the same time movement and action feels closer to me. I’m more capable of getting what I need.
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I’m a substitute

I’ve been working in the East Helena public schools. Ilgaz and I worked out there last year with our special Galloping Hand after school program. This year I’m on staff in the after school program working three days a week. Two days as an arts instructor and one day as a STEM instructor for kindergartners. (STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.) Apart from getting to brainstorm new projects every week for, as my sister calls them, little-year-olds I’ve been working as a substitute teacher.

The East Helena Public School system is remarkable. It’s three schools, pre-K to first grade at Eastgate, 2-6 at Radley, and the East Valley Middle School. It’s small enough that as a sub I’m a known quantity. I have gotten to know at least a few kids at every school and school staff are on-it and care about the kids. When I subbed for a few months in Helena schools last year I was always in a new school and so always felt a little lost. The best days subbing are days when I know the room.

I’m an office assistant

Apart from that work I’ve been making an effort to learn about the business my parents have run for the past 19 years. There’s a lot about the real estate business that I know already from having to wait around the office, poking around or from going on countless weekend house tours just for the fun of it, getting quizzed by my dad about this and that, working to ball park the value of a place.

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I’m a home remodeler

Then there’s the work on my apartment. I’m trying to pull it together for Ilgaz’s arrival in December. So far checked off the list:
* Refinished wood floors
* New vinyl in the kitchen and bath
* Paint in the bathroom, bedrooms, doors and trim
* New pedestal sink ($20 ReStore)
* Refinished heater covers
* New chimney liner

That plus a hundred little details I distract myself with like scrubbing old door knobs of paint and fixing rattling windows and installing new light fixtures that match the era of the house that I’ve gotten for a song at the ReStore, a second hand shop for building materials.

I was thinking this morning about working on a house. It’s never really finished. The list of little things to be done, here and there is endless. That’s why people call them money pits. But my attitude is that, like a life, a house is never really finished until the day you move out.

I’m a candy man

Alongside all this I’ve got a new and goofy project. My dad and I went in on a cotton candy maker from the old Ton’s of Fun. A defunct batting cages, go carts, laser tag place in Helena.

That’s right. I’ve got a cotton candy maker. Just take a moment and let that sink in. I now have my own professional cotton candy machine and it’s glorious.

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I remember lingering at the cotton candy stand at the carnival one year, standing on a wooden box, peering into the window at the blurred spinning head of a cotton candy machine, asking all kinds of questions to the severely bored and sugar armed young woman pouring pink sugar into the spinner. A beat. Then like magic cotton candy started to appear on the rim of the big bowl, the lady started to roll it around a paper cone.

“How does that work?”
“It melts it.”
“Is it hot when it comes out?”
“I don’t know.”
“Can I touch it?”
“Look, just buy some if you want it.”

Well, now that I have my own cotton candy maker I have learned that it’s not hot when it comes out. Warm, but not hot. I also learned there is a very good reason not to reach your hand in the bowl, not unless you want to get your hand instantly cocooned in sugar webs. Even so it’s not that bad. So long as there’s a sink near by I don’t think anybody should mind having a sugar mit.

I’m active.

Working on cutting down debt, building up a base again and anticipating Ilgaz getting here in December all feels pretty darn good. Keeping busy and all the while leaving room for the kind of fun stuff I don’t think I will ever be able to give up is good for me.