I still don’t know how to describe it. Nana and I keep saying, “it’s weird,” because it is. We finally sold the house. After eight years of being weighed down by the obstacles and the bad memories, and the good memories and the sadness that our family would never be the same, life would never be the same, this heaviness would disappear in the matter of a few signatures. Just like that. I kept the front porch swing. The new owners will give me some of the knotty pine cabinet doors to do with what I wish. And we will never have to go back there again, but only to pass by and see the changes, the progress. How … weird.
There are no more piles of molding boxes to go through. There are no more dead rats to sweep up, no more roaches. There are no more violent games or porn from my uncle’s room to throw in the garbage. There are no more cords or furniture or DVD players or laptops or clothes or anything else dribbled in white paint to cry over. There are no more spider webs to dodge, no more dust mites to inhale. There are no more rotten limbs to fear falling on the roof, no more ceiling to cave in. There are no more citations to dodge for failing to remove the frenzied canes growing in the backyard. There are no more canes. There is no more grass to pay the woman to mow. There is no more trying to find people to take our shattered treasures. There is no more Johnny saying weird shit, no more ignoring him. There are no more demons pulling out the tongue of my grandfather. There are no more family arguments or tears. There is no more looking in the front yard for bullet casings from when my uncle shot at me, after he shot my mother. There is no more looking at the living room floor, and wondering if that dark spot was hers. There are no more successions to be filed. There are no more lawyers’ fees to pay. Weird.
There are no more azaleas blooming in the front yard. Although I have the swing, there is no more sitting on it on that front porch. There is no more laughing at Fawlty Towers or Blazing Saddles in that living room. There is no more Nana kicking back on her recliner in that space between the living and dining rooms, no more recliner. There is no more bedroom filled with boxes of memories, no more record player, no more posters on the wall, no more spiral carpet, no more broken tile pieces, no more purple bedspread. But I kept my giant stuffed dog. Still, there is no more twin foldout bed to put it on. There is no more pitching softballs in the backyard. There are no more unassumingly named dogs, Tiny and Boy, to play fetch with. They’re long gone. There are no more front steps where my neighborhood friends and I would put on plays, no more singing Pat Benatar songs at the top of my lungs in my bedroom, not there anyway. There is no more Mom playing and singing to Joan Baez records, mainly to annoy Nana. There are no more family holiday dinners sitting at the Formica table, but I kept the table too. There are no more taco eating contests, no more baked chicken and Rice-a-Roni, no more fudge, no more powdered sugar donuts and Coke for breakfast, no more freshly churned peach ice cream, no more me sitting on the kitchen counter while Nana cooks and then me wrapping my tiny legs around her waist as she carries me back into the living room. There is no more roast and rice + gravy, no more lima or butter beans, no more banana pudding, all of Mom’s favorites, all cooked in the kitchen by Nana. There is no more squeaky orange sofa, no more wood paneling. There are no more pictures of Jesus, no more cold-framed landscape painting, no more makeshift forts, no more tobacco spit, no more musty pawpaw smell. Weird.
But as these memories and images and smells flood into this present moment, I realize that they all still do exist. They always will. They happened, they’re part of who I am. And I can choose to hold on to them or not. But the weight of the house, the future, the past, the pain is no longer there, or at least it’s fading. All of a sudden, I feel lighter. It’s a little disconcerting. What to do with such lightness? What to do with better sleep, and a feeling to stay healthier rather than drown myself in memories and alcohol? What to do with less anxiety and fewer digestive issues? Live. That’s what. Weird.