There’s much to enjoy about the vocation of house-sitting at a resort. If you love to read, there’s all that solitude. If you’re a recluse, you only have to socialize briefly at the beginning when they hand you the keys and at the end when you hand back the keys and receive your money. If you’re a writer, it solves some of the reasons writers sign up for expensive retreats.
Beautiful location, tranquil environment, limited responsibilities to a community. That describes my current position in the house I’m presently tending.
Cordial Stranger but Reliable Feeder-person
Unfortunately the resident dog thinks I’m there for his express happiness. He’s an eager trembler, this dog, with hopes of catching balls in the backyard. I make it a firm policy, however, to let dogs know right from the beginning that we are allies in a very passive sense. Most particularly, the dog must understand that we are not friends in the usual sense and that such an assumption will tend to sour our relationship. That means I take specific offense at all crotch sniffing and under no circumstances is he to lie beside me on the couch or on the bed. We are cordial strangers, no more than that. Nevertheless, I am a reliable feeder-person.
Cats better understand my position; however, an interim-type of relationship with a cat is always more complicated than it first appears. For example, my most recent cat-sit mewed with fervor every morning when I arrived and rolled over begging me to pet her fluffy belly. When I obliged, she clawed my hand.
I suppose it’s this sort of duality that keeps a relationship vibrant–at least I’m considering that view. Another view would be that it’s a passive/aggressive relationship and I should stay clear of that cat. Closer to my heart would be the knowledge that a betrayal had occurred and the cat needed euthanasia.
I wonder if I could be a full-time house-sitter. I’m a fairly non-invasive resident. Translated, that means I study all family photos in the house carefully, but I never open a drawer. If salad greens are left in the ‘fridge, I eat them. However, I never open the freezer unit. It’s a fine line, I know, but it’s important to adopt certain standards of behavior.
One Thing I Fear
The one thing I fear about being a professional house-sitter is that I would begin responding to the world through books and art and music, that I would disconnect too far. Writers that respond to second-hand impressions of the world can be wonderful technicians, but they don’t grab my soul. Their insulation from the direct stimulation of lived experience may keep a lot of pain at bay, but maybe it’s the heart-ache and the yearning and the getting-it-wrong when I tried-so-hard-to-get-it-right that forms a poet’s heart.