It took a long time and a lot of work, and now the attic is clean. It wasn’t as hard as making one last amazing album while you’re dying of cancer, but it wasn’t easy. It doesn’t look like much, but I cried when I saw it.
Cleaning that space has been at the top of my bucket list for years. I had not wanted to leave the mess for someone else to deal with. “Now I can die,” I thought.
Parts of me already did.
My new neighbor’s elderly father is in the hospital. “The thing about dying,” she says, “is that it doesn’t happen all at once.” Yes. Shingles didn’t even come close to finishing the job, but it did knock me down pretty hard. And I’m not bouncing back as fast as I would have when I was younger.
I’m intensely aware that I am made of both Meat and Magic. We all are.
There was something almost comforting for me about David Bowie dying. We’re all going to do it someday, and we’re in good company. Everyone we’ve ever loved or admired or respected is going to do it too, if they haven’t already.
Yeah, I know. I’m a weirdo.
When we moved into this house sixteen years ago, I was too depressed to deal with most of the boxes of household stuff. I unpacked the bare necessities and stashed the rest in the attic, where I ignored it for over a decade.
“There’s a reason for that,” says the little virtual E who lives in my head.
“Didn’t we have an ice cream scoop?” Dave kept asking. We did. It was in the attic. I told him he could go up there and get it. He never did. I’m sure he had his reasons too. Eventually I bought him a new ice cream scoop.
But now we’re having all the windows in our house replaced. Two of the windows are in the attic, which is an unfinished room above the garage. And I thought: as long as we’re going to have contractors here and they have to get in the attic, we might as well have them finish that room. So now there’s a dumpster in our driveway, and Dave and I are cleaning out the attic. We toss the boxes out the window onto the lawn; it’s easier than carrying them down the stairs.
One of the boxes broke open when it hit the grass. In it, there was an account I had written of my run-in with the Friendly Neighborhood Child Molester. I wrote it 22 years ago, and it ended up getting published in a magazine. Holy crap!
I brought the magazine inside and sat on the sofa with it. My hands shook as I turned the pages and found my crummy little story. I couldn’t read the whole thing. I put the magazine aside and thought for a while about what to do with it.
Thirteen years ago, I was seeing a therapist who made me tell her that story over and over again. How many times did I recite all the gory details? I lost track. It didn’t help.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said to E, “…and I’m not going to tell you that story.” Every time, she says that I don’t ever have to. I never get tired of hearing that. It helps.
In the end, I burned the magazine in the woodstove. Nobody else gets to know what happened in that vacant lot.