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JOURNAL
December 2016
This very old house

It was a big move. I am still settling in to so many new things.... (one being that is is 6 below zero this morning) Some days, I will admit, I am completely lost, strangely orphaned. But there are stories here. Old stories to tell anew....

Our house was built in 1927. We are the third family to live here. There are a few things, well, actually almost every single thing hasn't been updated or cared for since the Carrs moved in in 1963. And "update is a generous word."

So, the basement was a dungeon, we are slowly resurrecting it, at least to be able to store things. The original garage that became a "rec" room in 1963 will be my husband's new office. The kitchen, well, that's going to be a very long story.

For now, we've abated the asbestos, treated the mold, ripped out the sexy wood paneling. We do need to get back to our work...

But there are some things that must stay - reminders of the lives that were lived here.

In the attic, in the far corner, along with some poor squirrel's remains, four photos. The Roterings, I presume.

 

On one basement panel door, numbers and dates going back to 1935. Coal allotments? Temperatures? "18 -, Cold, 1/6/36"

On the door to the closet that housed the weathered, crumbling storm windows, heights, notched: "Steve, August 64.... Peg, August 66"

 

On the one hand I am overwhelmed by the tasks and the expense before us. Why didn't they take better care of this place? How could they live with these mickey mouse kitchen cabinets? The rain seeping in in places, the trashed pulleys, frames and sashes of the windows, the toxic carpet on the stairs and landing.

And then, the house stills me, embraces me. It's beautiful bones are intact. The radiators still keep it cozy and warm. The woodwork is gorgeous, original. The windows fill the place with light even on the crummiest days.  The floors are stunning, even with all the assaults of time and family.

And then there's the laundry chute, someone's slip still caught between floors. The tiny phone alcove by the front stairs. 

 

There's the antique ice fishing drill and barb

 

There is time. There has already been all this time.

I am thinking this will feel like home very soon.

 

The Big Move

Jim, the driver, picked up our load in Hackensack, New Jersey, and carried all this stuff in his pocket for the five days it took to get to us.

He said he wasn't sure where any of it came from, but the guys who ferried and loaded all the stuff from our apartment insisted it was ours.

The key, yes, from the small pine dresser drawer. The chipped white elephant ear from the leg of a tiny table, yes. The handle and knobbed foot? Someone else's lost pieces. Seemed kind of fitting for that shell-shocked week after the election.

 

It was bewildering for sure. Packing up for months in small spurts between tour dates. Voting. Then moving on November 10. We spent a week here with a bed, a step stool and some wine. Suddenly alone. None of those New York voices that don't hold back one bit. No tv. Quiet.

As they unloaded box after box on move in day, I began wishing we had brought nothing. We could start over. Do better. Work even harder. I confess I thought that even as I was packing. Even as we sat on the floor the evening before the truck rolled up. I thought, what if they just never came. Would I miss anything? How do we even start this next stretch in our lives, not to mention the next four years navigating this country's deep divides.

I will glue the ear back on the elephant. I will put the key back in the pine dresser drawer, maybe tape it down this time. I will unpack only the things I treasure. I will discard the unnecessaries. Keep those two lost others' pieces as a reminder  to listen. I will get back to work. 

Here is where Mary Oliver always speaks:

"Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half perfect?

Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
Which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished...."

Onward. 

xo
JB