I’ve been a-thinking, Reader, and there seems to be a pattern: I get the woe-is-me-bluesies after the holidays, probably every year. I know I’ve been here before, same timeframe, same sads. I had a whole 365 days and haven’t done anything noteworthy. I get all reminiscent like an old sailor*
*that was the actual “use it in a sentence” sentence on the interwebs.
and then I get the bluesies. Reader, did you know my mama died 12/26 – the day after Christmas?
No, not THIS year, way back in the olden days of the 1990’s. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I liken to an old sailor this timeah year.
She just died right in my arms, the day after Christmas. Her dying words to me were aggravated-sounding, as if I were bothering her from getting where she needed to go. Because I was, shaking her back to the NOW, or at least trying to.
But it was not to be, she only got 59 years on this planet, which isn’t all that old, because while I’m not going to name names here
because I’ll get punched in the tits tomorrow because a lady** never tells another lady’s** age, let’s just say that someone I know just turned that very same age, and I only point that out so we can all feel how young 59 actually is. It’s YOUNG. If that’s my same fate, I only get 8 more years to fuck off be a super-productive member of society. Now don’t you feel a little bit assholie, for ever thinking a bad thought about me? I’ve been dealt HARD HANDS, Reader. I should be treated with kid gloves. At least from Nov-Feb. The rest of the time you can think I’m an assholie.
**that I’m referring to either one of us as a “lady” is a spectacular liberty I’m taking with language!
So anyway, that’s probably one of the contributing factors for me getting the sads, and it’s been sticking around and making me put on my pjs and just go to bed when I get in the door at night. Last night being a prime example, where I was in bed at 7 p.m. and barely budged except for water, pee and more pee. And I still struggled to get outta bed this morning, so this sad is being extra aggressive.
Except! This morning I decided Fuck You, Sads, and I made a decision to do something productive tonight so that I’ll feel like I’m in control and getting my chaotic personal life under control. I’m much better with things once I make a list. Life is do-able once a list is in place.
Instead of doing the one actual less-fun thing on my list that I really need to be doing, here I sit, writing you a love letter. A really badly written love letter, because it’s not even about you at all. It’s about me and my life things. So maybe it’s just a love letter ABOUT me, to you.
One of the things I old-sailor reminiscent-ed up about was thinking about some of my past homes. Places I’ve lived at different times in my life, and thanks to zillow, it’s easier than ever to stroll through the houses that built me.
This was the first house I ever lived in. It was a tinyish house, tiny for a family of five by today’s standards. House Hunters wouldn’t be able to wipe their asses in this size house.
The window in the front, between the huge giant overgrown bushes was my bedroom window.
I think this is the correct shot of the room.
My bed was in the same spot, but sirriously, it was MUCH BIGGER than this. I mean, there was just tons of space for a girl to build a Barbie Dream House out of shoe boxes, and have a little table set up for playing school, and a little cardboard kitchen and a record player once I got a little older. It was big enough to hold all that, and a skating rink.
The floors were hardwood, and I remember one time, because I had a minor obsession with skating, I used furniture polish to turn the floors into my personal rink.
And then my younger, unsuspecting brother came running in with socks on, and slid from the doorway to underneath a small blue table I had there next to the bed. I think I might have gotten spanked after that and told never to spray furniture polish on the floors again.
The big window opposite of my bedroom window was the formal living room area. It had the same oakhardwood floors that were in my bedroom, and housed the “nice” furniture which was a nubby scratchy nylon purple-ish grey formal sectional thing that nobody ever sat on. Probably because it was super-scratchy feeling. The hardwood gleamed underneath it, because my mama waxed it about once a week (hell, it could have been once a year for all I truly know, my old-sailor memory seems to think it was part of the routine).
The room is crowded with awful artwork and carpeted over.
I would loved to have done a side-by-side, room-by-room age-gap analysis (because that sounds so fun, huh, Reader!) of “then and now” but I have very few pictures. But! I did happen to jog my old-sailor memory and recalled I had this one photo upstairs, so I got up and
exercised ran quickly lumbered upstairs and it was right where I thought.
This is that same room from above, the stereo is the wall with the couch underneath the picture. You can see the hardwood, but that’s about all. Of the room, anyway.You can also see Adorable Me, with my bikini body and my same stance. And my pudgy little legs and knees. Still have those, too. You are who you are, am-i-right, Reader.
That little room jutting off on the side of the house was the “tv” room. It had a green leather sofa and a recliner and a rabbit-earred tv that we’d all gather round and watch as a family. There was a screened in porch off the back, where I’d camp sometimes in the summer on an old army cot with an extra-horrible wool army blanket my dad gathered up for me. I know he didn’t do that with malice – at least I sure hope not because that’s awful to do to a seven year old – but fuck-to-this-day, I hate wool! I would toss and turn on that awful cot with that even more awful blanket, sweltering in the summer heat but damned if I was going to give up and come in and admit I didn’t have what it took to rough it.
My my my, how times have changed, huh, Reader. Because that is the same girl that CRIED that one time when I booked an interior stateroom on a cruise ship and would have sold Kenny’s left nut for an upgrade, had one been available.
So I spent a little bit of time scruitinizing the pictures on zillow, down to the room layouts, paint colors and decorating choices, and tried to remember how it looked when it was home to Lil’ BangBang.
I looked at the indoors and the out. What happened to my mama’s rose garden (gone), the pool (gone), the four pear trees that did nothing but attract bees (gone), the crooked stones of the walkways (about the same), the basement shower (gone), the scary-ass preserves room in the basement, which was always several degrees colder and spider-webby and there was a curtain I think over the doorway that you’d have to push into and hope a web wasn’t on it, and I hated it when I was asked to go down and get some green beans or whatever was needed for that night’s supper, but I went anyway because back in my day, kids did what their parents told ’em to do, even it the scary-ass nightmares of that room stayed with her for the next one hundred years.
I didn’t see any pictures of that on the web. Because no one wants to advertise their scary-ass rooms as a selling feature.
The house is for-sale, if I were to purchase it my zestimate for a monthly payment would be $263/month. Which seems pricey by comparison of when I went next to look up the last house I lived, when I lived in Cleveland.
That? Broke my heart a little, because all the love and elbow grease that went into restoring it and fixing it up? Gone. A shabby, unloved, broken down version of the house I sold.
A shutter is missing from the upstairs window. That whole upstairs span of windows is the master bedroom, it was really big for an old city house.
Of course we put up the little decorative fence. Because I wanted to cute it up at the holidays.
Now? It’s missing spindle tops. No one cares.
That garage?? I can’t. even. The backyard was tiny, but cute. I remember spending a few days one summer painting that garage. Wild mint grew behind it and we’d pick it and make mint iced tea throughout the summer.
Two trash cans tucked neatly inside the garage, never just shambled up all over the yard.
It recently sold for $18,000. I sold it in 2005 or 2006 for just under $100,000. Right before the housing market burst, which was one of the perfect-timing moments in my life.
I don’t think I have any photos of it when I lived there, which is odd, but I can’t even think of where they could be if I had any. That’s one more difference between then and now – life didn’t have to be daily documented. Now? I have plenty of interior photos of my current house, just from photographing cats, myself and various shenanigans.
That’s the story of some of the nostalgia I had intended to post last month, but I just couldn’t seem to get around to it. Maybe Christmastime isn’t the time to spend waking memories. Memories can either be friend or foe, and while it seems innocent enough to look up houses you’ve lived in before, a lot of memories come with it.
My mama for one.
Playing and dreaming and singing out the bedroom window, chasing fireflies up and down that uneven walkway.
Working and planning and loving and moving on and letting go and finding yourself along the way. Even when you sometimes have to look underneath that heap of sad, you’re still there because you were built on unshakable solid ground.
3 thoughts on “Won’t Take Nothing but a Memory…”
I remember that little house on W. 125th St and your sweet Mama, we had so much fun and laughter I wish we could do it over again.
you are part of the memories of that house, too!
Oh sweetie how I understand! My brother passed 2 days before Thanksgiving and my dad 2 days before xmas – in the same year. Then my long time boyfriend passed away suddenly on Dec. 31, 1999 (guess he wasn’t destined to be a millennial man), and my bestie a day or two after Labor Day 2009. The entire – I mean ENTIRE – “Holiday” season just sucks for me. I’ve renamed them the “Hellidays” as more befitting. I would like to dig a hole and pull it in after me for the last four months of the year. I’ve even told my family I’m out of town or out of the country for many holidays while I was just hibernating in my bed without the energy to even get up, get dressed or get showered. You were such a brave young woman to hold your mom while she passed – it makes you so much stronger than most people. Just be extra good to yourself – you deserve it! <3
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