Monday, November 22, 2010


I arrived in Georgia at three this morning. The house isn’t home anymore, though it looks the same from the outside. Mums was long asleep, and I was tired, but I wandered around for a while before I found a place to lie down. In every room, upstairs and down, the remaining furniture had been shoved to the center of the floor with lamps and blankets and books piled on top. Brown paper is laid everywhere on tile and hardwood, and window frames are taped. The walls are daubed with new paint and spackling compound. Light fixtures have been removed entirely or are hanging by wires rather than screwed in. Pictures, paintings, and family photographs are propped in closets and in the kitchen, ready to be swaddled in bubble wrap and packed. All the shower curtains and the portable mirrors in the bathrooms are down, and tools are lying in the tubs and on the countertops. A thin powder of sheetrock dust has spread over everything.

I finally unearthed a couch in the living room and climbed over into this makeshift nest for a few hours’ rest. But a neighbor’s dog was barking, and it kept up an unceasing “woo, woo” for an hour, while I fantasized all sorts of inhumane ways of dispatching the beast. Finally, I found a roll of paper towels and stuffed shredded bits in my ears, which I then clamped between a brace of cushions. Thus muffled, I managed to fall asleep.

Today, after hitting the gym, Mums and I did more prep work for my Atlanta brother’s anticipated return at the end of the week to continue the painting. Nate’s already accomplished an amazing amount—my other brother, Bob, who did a bunch of fixture-work this past weekend, hasn’t shirked, either. Together, they are saving Mums at least $7,000 in remodeling costs necessary to the anticipated listing of the house for sale February 1.

I’m unsettled—I’m the sort who clings to mementos as a sort of Bladerunner-style evidence of my own past existence: that’s a contributing factor to my becoming a historian. I want to keep memories and friends, people and their stories. Losing Daddy hurts and hurts, burning like an old wound, and cutting free of all the ephemera that surrounded him the last quarter century—books, furniture, the house itself—is to me further discombobulating, however much I recognize its being the natural course of things. I don’t feel whole at times anymore. Today I have been very sorrowful. Not actively crying (much), or even unhappy (strange as that may sound), but just like I am made of lead inside, wistful at the weird blankness of the world without my father and grandfather. Thanksgiving, and then my birthday (this coming Sunday), are going to be hard.

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