Sunday Morning ~ Home
September 9, 2018
I’m back in my house and slowly making it mine again, a process I am finding both tedious and sweet. It feels so good to be here. I started with the kitchen and realized how ingrained the motions are that constitute my routines. It took me awhile to get wooden spoons and knives back in the spots that accommodate my reach, like props on a stage. Yesterday I focused on my desk. It’s a good exercise to examine everything you own once in awhile. Replacing all my items after two years away makes me look at them with a different eye. Do I really need a paperback thesaurus taking up space in a desk drawer? But it seems so quaint that I hate to part with it. I went through all the correspondence I’d thrown in a box and stuck in the attic in my frenzy to depart. Putting them back in the desk unexamined seemed irresponsible. I didn’t even know what was in there. There was a pile of photos I meant to send to the subjects years ago. I found a few love letters that were really well written. Probably why I saved them. There were some Christmas cards, some tags from flowers I’d received over the years, my official time from my first marathon, and my mother’s death certificate. It was quite a hodgepodge. There’s a photo of me laughing, stroking Rachael’s hair as she leans back into my lap. Joe is across the table pointing a finger at someone and also laughing. There is a vase full of lupine on the table and half filled glasses of wine. It must have been Matt’s high school graduation weekend and family were here visiting. It’s a good photo of us and Joe blew it up and mounted it as a gift for me. When I found out he was having an affair I threw it out the bedroom window but a few weeks later I found it face down on the greenhouse roof. I decided to keep it for some reason. I felt like the fact that it hadn’t blown away or the rain hadn’t ruined it was some kind of symbol.
Today is my fortieth wedding anniversary. When Joe’s parents had their fortieth, we had a dinner party for them at Mark and Gael’s house with a formal dining room. We dressed up and kids weren’t invited. We all had small children and this was to be a more civilized event minus the usual chaos when all the grandkids were around. Joe’s brother Scott, recently graduated from the Culinary Institute, was the chef. Mark wrote a poem for the occasion. I wore a dress I’d made, burgundy velvet with big puffy sleeves and a low back, a Laura Ashley design. It was the 80’s. We had five small kids and Joe was still in graduate school. I was working in a busy practice and rent and babysitter consumed three weeks of my monthly salary. My mother watched the kids that night. It was a happy family event, this sixty year-old couple surrounded by seven of their eight children, their second daughter having died on Christmas Eve fifteen years prior. I remember thinking forty years was an eternity. What would it be like to be with someone every day of forty years? I always assumed I’d find out. I thought of our five little kids and wondered if they’d have a party for us? It falls on a weekend and everything.
I feel old. It was a long time ago that twenty-one year old girl was planning the outdoor reception. The day was sunny but really windy and she was fretting about the wind and the cloths blowing off the tables. The tent was shaking with the gusts and eventually blew down completely while she was in the church vowing to stay forever. After the ceremony she didn’t care about the tent anymore. Guests moved the tables inside; the collapsed tent became one of the funny wedding stories and a sign of what great friends they had. She was so in love and so happy nothing could have ruined that day. And now it seems everything she loved that day has soured. Her husband, her church, her country, all gone crazy.
I’ve unpacked most of what I shlepped through Europe. It’s laid out waiting for permanent resting places. Some are gifts and some will need wall space. I need to decide who will give up their spots. Chithenjes need to be washed. They are lying in a pile near the washing machine. I think of Catherine bent over at the outside faucet on Monday evenings doing our laundry and wonder what happened to her. Catherine disappeared after we left Blantyre. She just stopped showing up for work, even though the landlady was going to keep all the guards employed there. Then Chimemwe was hit by a car while walking on the roadside at night. He survived, but was in a coma for a few weeks and can not walk or talk. George went to visit him when he went to Blantyre and said it was heartbreaking. This vibrant strong talented man cannot move his arms or legs and is at the mercy of his impoverished family for care. George thought he recognized his voice as his facial expression changed and he tried to speak. His family said he was improving, so we are not giving up hope that he’ll recover somewhat, but whether he’ll be able to support everyone as he had before is very questionable. George left money for the family to care for him. His wife, who’d been part of the women’s group, gave George a bunch of jewelry they’d made with Chimemwe’s guidance and George gave her money for that as well. Everything changes in an instant. None of it is fair.
My cat has taken up residence at the neighbors. I picked her up to bring her home last evening and she resisted. She seems fatter. I put her food outside on the porch and hope she’ll forgive me for going away. I hope the squirrels don’t consider it a welcome home feast. I see they have moved in to the greenhouse.
I’ll get settled this week, get taxes done, and see what I can do to help with the election in November. All hands on deck as the ship is sinking.
From where I am sitting I see the flowering dogwood I gave Joe for Father’s Day the year we moved in to this house. It’s grown a lot over the years but never blossomed.
Love to all,