Saturday, October 25, 2014

Goodbye, Childhood Home

We sold my parents' house.  

It's gone.

Well, it's still there. I don't have a key, though.  Last Thursday night, I pressed it into the palm of my brother, M., who in turn forked it over to the new owners during closing on Friday. 

(M. agreed to serve as our representative during closing.  Which turned out to be much more daunting that any of use knew it would be.  He ended up having to sign as all seven of us.  Have you ever closed on a house?  I got sick of my own name during our last two closings; I can't imagine signing seven different names on approximately four thousand, eight-two pages.  We may have accidentally given him carpal tunnel syndrome.)

I digress.

I took off last week so that I could, without distraction, say goodbye to my childhood home. This has been a year-long process, to be sure. But I couldn't rush the last week. I needed to be as methodical, considerate, and thoughtful in that last week as I had been during the previous year.

I wasn't alone. Not always.  But there was a half hour that I had to myself that allowed me to devolve into a puddle of sad.

It was Tuesday.

After dropping my four-year-old off at his bright and shiny preschool, and kissing him goodbye, I wended around the Baltimore beltway to my parents' house.  The day was cold.  Gray.  Misty.  Perfect weather for desolate endings.

I inserted that key, turned the knob (scraping my knuckles on the realtor's lockbox), and entered the chilly confines of the home -- the house, now -- that was on the cusp of belonging to others.  The door squeaked and scraped open for me the same way it had hundreds of times before.  You know how you become accustomed to the sound of your house welcoming you? That welcome music from a place that knows you, that embraces you?

I heard it on Tuesday.

I'm a bit maudlin.  I know that.  And tears are cathartic for me.  So I decided to wallow.  Why not? I was alone.  The weather was the kind that Morrissey would bask in.  I gave my permission to sink deep into the dark that I was feeling.  I picked up a CD of my father's -- Glenn Miller's Greatest Hits -- and jabbed it into the CD player lurking in the corner of our family room.

'Moonlight Serenade' surrounded me.  I sank into my father's office chair -- the ratty, peeling office chair that now lives in my guest room -- and wept.  I am an ugly crier.  Have I told you that?  My daughter is a very, very pretty crier.  Her tantrums result in glassy eyes, wild hair, and cherry flushed cheeks.  Me?  Blotchy, sniveling, and creased.

Anyway, I've heard that song thousands of time in my life.  All of those times are associated with my father.  He'd put on big band while working on the pool, or sorting photos, or decorating the house for Christmas.  So, I can't hear Glenn Miller and think, "Wow, I love this era of music!"  Nope.  When I hear Glenn Miller, I think, "Daddddddyyyyyyy!"

Yeah.  So, lots of chubby tears rolling down my cheeks.  Thank the baby Jesus none of my family were there to see me.  This is a thing that needs to happen alone.

I got up to go to the bathroom to grab  tissue, and I had to take a knee.  My belly cramped up, heaved, and I thought I was going to throw up.  

The last time that happened to me was Christmas, 2010, when my mother was dying.  My younger brother, C., was visiting her in hospice and called to say that he noticed that the urine in her bag was really dark.  He said that the hospice nurse said that this was a sign that my mother's end was nigh.

I kept my cookies, though.  In both situations.

There's more.  Good Christ, there's more.  But, the depth, breadth, and overwhelmingness (which may not actually be a word, but hey, who cares?) of all of this can't possibly be distilled into a single post.  

So, look forward to more of me working through the devastation, maybe? Does that make for good reading?  Dunno.  But I have found that I need to vomit my feelings through my fingertips before I actually understand them.  And I am only just starting to really want to understand how I feel about all of this.