It began yesterday. My mother came home from Colorado for the last time. Meaning, the next time she or anyone from my family visits, they will not be going “home.” They’ll go to my place, or Robb and Amy’s. But not home.
The entire place looks gutted. When my family left in December, they took themselves. That is what broke off the house then. But they left behind the furniture and the things they didn’t need, which is of course the stuff that means the most to me.
This week, whatever I don’t save gets thrown away. It’s the ultimate challenge to my eternally anthropomorphizing packrat self.
“Do you want this, Judith?” my mother asked me about dishes that I’ve known since I was seven. Of course I do. How could I say goodbye to those dishes?
“Do you want this bookcase?”
“Do you want this picture?”
Do I want this, do I want that. Notebooks and scattered pieces of looseleaf, filled with bubbled letters and “i”s dotted with hearts. Books I haven’t seen in 20 years that I once could not put down. Record albums that were in constant rotation back in my formative years.
The house looks like a garage sale of my life. Because I had little of my own growing up, I always made the most of what I had to work with. So when I see something of my parents that underscored my entire childhood, sitting in the garbage, my heart just breaks.
Which means that my heart breaks pretty much every minute I’m in my house. But I guess it’s been breaking since I moved back home. Hopes constantly dangling, then falling to the ground with unceremonious thuds. But more on that later. I have to go meet my mother and brother for dinner, so my mother can find out “what (I) want, and what (she) should just get rid of.”
I want all of it. But I can’t take all of it. If it were a game of “Survivor,” I’d know. Take the fire; leave the heavy crates. Take the protein; leave the soda.
Here, in real life, I have no idea.