At Medicine Wheel, I had many ways to give love, and receive it. In a houseful of interdependents, love finds so many channels that the flow is damn near constant.
Options, on any given day, for giving love: Empty the humanure bucket. Replenish the sawdust supply. Do a good enough job of lining a fresh set of buckets with paper bags (or clean them well enough that they won’t offend the housemate who knows how to line them beautifully). Clean the common areas. Empty the compost. Empty the dish racks. Cook dinner. Prep for dinner. Step in to help a cook struggling to get the meal done. Ring the dinner bell. Concoct and dispense chocolate. Harvest and share berries. Tend the garden. Take a tiny person for a walk; pick her up; feed her single shreds of grated beet. Answer the phone. Take a message. Listen to the voicemails; relay useful information. Sweep the root cellar. Rearrange perishable items to promote longer life. Help carry food, laundry, and the like in from a vehicle parked in the drive. Play a parlor game. Create a new game. Conserve water. Ask questions. Listen for answers. Help find a tool that’s traveled. Explain how something works. Welcome and orient recent arrivals. Clean up after dinner. Make funny labels for leftovers. Make puns. Sing.
And, of course, I received at least as much love as I gave, in the forms listed above, as well as many more I was grateful not to be responsible for: Monitor the water supply. Get sawdust from town. Mastermind the garden. Launder dish towels. Collect food and rent money. Pay bills. Troubleshoot the phone extension. Harvest lettuce. Gather eggs. Relocate copperheads. Trap mice. Declutter. Delete obsolete phone messages. Split firewood. Order and pick up food.
In a two-person household, there are still plenty of ways to give and receive love. But home-tending feels different – often seems daunting – with just one witness, closed doors, a tightly circled flow.