The house looks & smells & sounds wrong. There’s water on the floor of the basement.
Night after night, I dream that I’m cleaning out attics and basements. Throwing away mildewed bolts of ornate fabric, broken lawn furniture, jars of bleached pickles, box after box of other people’s tax records. I sleep okay until about 3:30, and then I doze fitfully until I get up at 4:30 or 5.
The contractors show up every weekday at 7 AM. Shortly thereafter, the banging starts. Most days I leave by 7:30. I go to the studio and work on this thing:
The blue stuff is frit, tiny chips of broken glass. The backs of my hands are covered with little scratches.
By Thursday night, I’ve usually hit a wall. My shingles-infested shoulder and arm are sore. Sometimes my eyes stop working properly. Sometimes I go to bed at 8 o’clock.
I spend Fridays alternately sleeping and crying in my studio.
Saturdays and Sundays I get up at 4. I feed the cat and make myself a cup of tea. After I drink the tea and snuggle the cat, I go back to bed and sleep for another couple of hours. It’s the best thing ever. By Monday I feel halfway sane again.
I can’t go on. I’ll go on. One of these days they’ll finish putting the house back together, and life will feel more manageable.
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.