(edit: this post was conceived last year, around this time…we’ve since then moved…four times since last November)
So, I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked. I know…I know, and I’m sorry for what you’re feeling. The truth of the matter is, it’s not you, it’s me. See, I’ve been moving and working and exterminating and anxiousing and wheeling and dealing. You’re still one of the most important things in my life, sweetheart. I just…I just needed a break. I’m sorry.
But I’m back and allow me to spin some tales of goings-ons, readers. *cricket sounds*
I’m residing in a different sector of the planet, currently. If you didn’t know my life when I was in college, allow me to say: I can live in some shitty conditions…I mean, near squalor.
The first place was in the student ghettos of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Basically, it’s block after block of bewitchingly beautiful century-old houses running amuck (infested, is a better word) with nasty Western Michigan kids (which is a term of endearment as I was an aforementioned kid). So, one of these beauties became my home along with the current fling aaannnd like three other man-children. Living in the bungalow/attic meant no A/C in the summer and no heat in the winter. Lovely. To top it off, I couldn’t walk on the floors without shoes for fear of contracting food-stuck-to-my-tootsies-itis. Simply revolting. Dishes piled in formerly-soapy-dish-water now gone moldy (literally) from neglect. I don’t think I need to continue…
Oh wait! Yes, I do! There was one man-child who had long, thick hair and the ONLY tub in the house became so clogged with it that by the end of a shower, you were ankle-deep in shower water. Could some of that hair have been mine? Probably. Am I going to admit that? Shit no.
The last place I lived was all mine, also in Kalamazoo…a single bedroom apartment over Taco Bob’s on Westnedge in the Vine neighborhood, a slight move up the hill from the ghetto house on Axtel but it felt ages and states away. It got so hot in that apartment (the thermostat was always turned ALL the way down) that I actually had to open the windows in the [southwestern Michigan] winter…not lying. The bathroom was airplanesque, the sink, stove and cupboards were miniature…I mean, you couldn’t bathe a baby marmot in that thing (not that I would know…it’s an gut feeling, ass!) The oddest thing was around 0900, the smell of warming, seasoned taco meat would rise up from below me which was neither bad nor unwelcomed. The coolest thing was that the business below me had a roof that jutted out toward the street a bit more than the front part of the apartment so I could (and did) climb out my kitchen window. Many a night, a git-fiddle and a six-pack would accompany me, resulting in a slightly tipsy, daring Tee, shouting things to the tattoo parlor across the street (howdy, needle-jockeys! What say ye on this, the finest of nights?). We soon became fast friends, actually. People must prefer me surly.
So, our current digs in Albemarle, North Carolina: I’m a barely-accomplished [late] twenty-something and I can put up with a lot of strange, scary and disgusting living conditions. One thing I cannot put up with is bugs of the roach genus. I just…I can’t…*shudder.* And it’s the Souf and people are all “roaches, recluses and blah blah” and the thing is, I’m fine with their habitation outside of my dwelling. That is to say, I’ve seen them SKITTERING (not to be confused with Skittling which seems to insinuate delicious candies) ACROSS MY KITCHEN COUNTERS! The very first night I stayed with S there, we were sitting in the vomitus green linoleum colored kitchen, just eating our hillbilly helper like normal folks, sweating our nads off and a roach, at least the size of a kitten, possibly the size of a velociraptor, hauls ass across the counter. The look on my face was nothing short of, “I will literally burn this bitch to the ground unless you find that mammal/reptile-sized-sprinting-insect and end its life.” He did. No arson commenced. (Insert meme of girl-child with burning house in the background and supremely creepy look on child’s face…jesus, would someone just find it for me?! I have to do everything around this blog…)
A lot of back and forth with the landlord resulted in him (an aging and sincere (although ragingly racist) pastor)) coming out to perform the exorcism/extermination. I could finally sleep without worrying about my leftovers being eaten without my permission…a super dickhead move.
One other note-worthy night there was when Harley, the mammoth dog, started to just bark at the front door around 10 p.m. one night. Who would have guessed: a mysteriously-appearing rather large black man is sitting on our porch. S and I walked out to assess the situation (was he ok? What is he doing? Is he selling girl scout cookies and if so, how much?). Guy was waiting on a ride and decided our porch was the best place to sit because our porch light was on…riiiight. It’s not a “No Vacancy” sign, dude. Get to steppin!
S, being the noble gent he is, offered the mister a ride after he sat on the porch for a little over an hour. A man. Whom we do not know. Whose story was nothing less than suspicious…call me when you drop him off, bring your gun, love you? Basically. The perfect balance of generous and cautious, who can blame us?
Then, after six months, we moved again to the beautiful Seven Lakes North, North Carolina. A gated, yuppy community (as my father-in-law so aptly described it) filled with elderly people just living to get up and go walking at ‘o-dark-thirty in the goddamned morning. No complaints there, we enjoyed it, thoroughly.
Due to unforseen assholery from our employer at the time down there, we literally decided to move back to Michigan in a weekend. Packed our entire lives up again and trucked our asses 600 miles Northward without as much as a goodbye or the fulfillment of our lease. Yeah…about that. Ummmm…will you accept a briefcase of IOUs circa Dumb and Dumber? Those are just as good as money, my friend.
We graciously accepted my in-laws’ offer to stay with them until, well, whenever, in the definition of small town America: Millington, Michigan. Their smallish dog Spartacus Sparkatus Ameritus didn’t enjoy our mammoth and hound-bitch at first, but he became like their den-daddy soon, barking and snipping at them when they got rowdy, leaving his dish for them to lick clean and biting them on the ears and hindquarters. He was either saying, “I fucking love you fucking fucks” or “Seriously? Kick rocks.” with those tiny bites. We enjoyed many a night there, with the family. Laughing, loving and harassing each other as much as any normal family does.
I was also only a seven minute drive from my parents’ house, a few minutes from several very good friends and only blocks away from the heralded Curly Cone. It was strange being back home and seeing people you never thought you’d ever see again, being reminded of things you’d sooner wished you’d forgotten and hearing the way people all sound like FUCKING CANADIANS (no offense, yo. I’d dig being balls-deep in some gravy-fries, right now. Love you guys.) after living in the South. It felt good and strange. It felt normal and supernatural. It felt like being transported back in time and having to confront the Thera I was back then. I guess it was high time.
After living there for one day short of four months, we moved again. Mostly because of S getting another job in Midland, Michigan. My grandparents’ house in Arenac County, Michigan, has been uninhabited for the last 2.5 years. My grandpa who passed away last year (you know him, you love him, you read about him on this here bloggity site) and my grandma (still living and wily as hell) were moved into assisted living and my grandma is still.
This house up here has always felt like a second home to me as my brother and I spent many a summer here and we lived here in the winter when my grandparents’ went back to Florida for the winter.
The house, being left to neglect and dust, was originally supposed to be updated, cleaned and left for a family cabin. It’s only a few miles from the Rifle River, not far from Pinconning (the goddamned cheese capital making it the most desireable place for this girl to be) and just…away. It’s quiet. It’s the perfect size for a cabin. When S got the job in Midland, we realized how much closer it would be to live here. So we did. We moved in 7/25/15 (that is, slept here on the worst air mattress in existence) and have been here since.
Since being here, we’ve ransacked the place. Just kidding. LAWLS. We’ve been going through the spaces, packed with everything from photographs from 1921 (and earlier) to toothpicks and Ponderosa breath mints. This is not a fucking joke…mints and toothpicks…just EVERYWHERE.
A penny from 1916. A leather-bound copy of The Song of Hiawatha. My great grandpa’s gift to my grandmother: her first Bible. Film reels clad in metal marked “Card Family Reunion.” Some of them made me laugh, like decks of cards, everywhere. Some made me cry like pictures of my grandpa playing on the floor with me. Some made me a little angry like my grandpa’s puffy red jacket that still fucking smells like him. I’ve been coping with a lot of emotions here and it just feels kind of great.
Today is the first day I woke up and realized, as I was walking into the living room, that it felt like a summer there. With my brother. I half-expected my grandpa to be at the kitchen table playing solitaire, eating oatmeal with molasses on it. I was certain I’d hear my grandma calling from the kitchen, asking what B and I wanted for breakfast. My heart let out a sigh when I realized the backyard was just grass, not a garden like it used to be. And for all my heart misses having them here (and it’s a shit-ton, I’m sure you know), I’m glad to be the one cleaning the cobwebs. I’m thankful to be sifting through their things, the junk and the treasures. And the junk treasures…like tiny, stubby pencils anyone would throw away, and I’ve been tucking into a box for Dad. Why? Because we both know. We know grandpa kept them behind his ear and we love them for that and we love him for that.
At any rate, since April of last year, we’ve now moved four times. Our clothes, our bed, our dogs and our marriage. It’s been wild since the day S and I started to love each other and I guess I’m not sure why I expected it to slow down. I hope this house leeches some of that good stuff into us. I hope that through the walls, through some sort of osmosis or extraction, that we can continue to live and love the way they did and the way she still does. I hope this house bestows upon us the strength to love each other, fiercely, for more than 65 years, even if one of us is no longer here.
However temporary this living arrangement is, I almost feel like this was supposed to happen for my heart to heal.
And yes, the puffy red jacket will be worn, this winter. And just maybe, I’ll plant a little garden that will never be enough.