Friday, June 12, 2009

Domestic Deconstruction

We have been in our house since 1989, the longest period we’ve ever spent in one place and one residence. The house was smaller than the spacious mansion we left behind in Minnesota, a place we called St. Alban’s Hotel because it stood (stands still) on St. Alban’s Road and was ample in extent. The living room, for instance, had ceiling-to-floor bookshelves on one of its wide sides, and despite a huge window that gave us a panoramic view of just a small part of our tree-shaded demesne out back—the word used deliberately because it hints at an “estate,” which this place somewhat resembled: thirty-some-odd trees raised canopies out there, quite a few very tall; and despite the light that came in through that window, the vast bookcases lay in gloomy shadow so that, to find a book, you had to turn on lights. When we moved east and left the hotel behind, we brought more than we should have to McKinley place, furniture and piles of lesser things. This house is large enough but got to be crowded, some parts—the attic and basement—literally stuffed. Most of those books are in the attic here, nowhere else to put them; it’s like a library up there, shelves and sturdy shelves and, in the aisles between them, the obstructing obsolescence of everything else too useful to discard: the rainy day, you see, those memories of surviving by black marketing in post-war Europe, and plain dislike of throwing out perfectly valuable objects or things to which memories cling.

But a busy life—two people working demanding jobs, at the office, in the home—have a cost. No, we didn’t keep up with the necessary tasks of elimination; we did not energetically organize yard and garage sales; yes we still have rusting monsters (like an ancient snow-blower) we brought with us from Minnesota; that snow-blower (there is a new one too) will be a stand-in for many other things. Thus that well-known advertising slogan echoes: Pay me now or pay me later. Well, now it’s later, twenty years later, and now we are anticipating a move at last. We settled here because it was an easy trip downtown, on the well-heeled edge of a vast city that—on a very recent trip to Goodwill Industries, where I dropped off, if that’s the word (groaned-off is more like it), an SUV stuffed full of obsolete computers—I discovered again is falling apart, socially, physically, and infrastructurally. Half the traffic lights downtown were out. The Goodwill depot, fenced about like a medieval fortress and guarded by uniformed personnel, stood surrounded by ghosts of houses where bats, one presumes, have nightly egress and tree branches come out of upstairs windows. Yes, we need to move. We’ve therefore begun a process of domestic deconstruction. We’re about two weeks into the job, just far enough to know what is required—which is a kind of brutality. It is easier to suffer such events passively than actively to initiate them. Reminds you of your mortality. But it’s good for the soul…

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this sounds so melancholy... But, I am encouraged to the statements about a move coming!