Donald Trump may have abandoned the world of blogging but despite my recent absence, I have not.
My attention has been shifted momentarily out of necessity because of my soon-to-be move to a new home but my heart remains here, with you all.
Packing up the tangible evidence of my life has truly consumed me. As an avid collector who veers close to being a packrat, it has become a full-time job packing up my life belongings. And those of generations of my family.
The cultural clutter of the 20th century that has filled my pages and my art is now all boxed up, labeled, and categorized ready to go. The extent of my catalog of the past 90 years has been astounding, surprising even me.
A person who has devoted their interests to American consumerism, it now consumed me; literally.
Pack Up Your Troubles
In the process of packing away a lifetime of belongings, I may have temporarily packed up my voice with it too.
Stored deep among the cacophony of cardboard boxes that now fill every nook and cranny of my large home is a boatload of feelings, thoughts, and observations to rival the massive amounts of “stuff” I have collected, accumulated, and inherited over my lifetime. They remain contained, as carefully wrapped in bubble wrap as Wedgewood fine bone china, until that time they are safely ready to be unpacked.
But some still burst out from time to time taking me on a roller coaster of feelings to rival the infamous Cyclone at Coney Island. My year of closing down my parents’ house, a few years ago has served well as training, a true boot camp for this experience. But now I am in the front lines and it is painfully lonely.
The Sounds of Silence
The sounds of exiting a long-lived in home are distinctive.
There is now that strange echo that permeates my house. The once dense art filled walls are bare but for the scuff marks and holes where once art and generations of framed family photos long-lived. There is nothing to buffer the feelings which are raw.
The sound is particular and one I had not heard in this space for close to 20 years when I first looked at these bare walls and envisioned a life here. All my family photos are gone from the entire wall they once graced, packed, and waiting for me. My family watched over me here and they now reside in boxes at this new home ready to welcome and transition me when I finally make the final full move.
The walls are bare even as my heart and my emotions are on overload.
The physical presence of my home has transitioned too, from a gracious home to one resembling a booby trap of mazes of boxes of all shapes and sizes.
My dog Stanley at first unfazed by this obstacle course that has become my house, he has adapted. But he knows something is up. His familiar patterns are disrupted.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
For now, I have had to fall out of love with my beloved house.
It is the only way to depart emotionally intact. Having your home foreclosed is like leaving a lover who has broken up with you when you had no choice in the matter and were still painfully in love.
Especially when you are still desperately in love. For now, in order to let go, I focus on their negative traits.
Neglected by design, my well-tended garden is now in shambles, rivaling Gray Gardens. Once a glorious place to give full expression to my artist’s eye fueled by my OCD so that nary a weed dare grow between the hundreds of bricks of my patio now runs wild with weeds, plants, and debris, making an inviting all you can eat buffet for the birds and rabbits to feast on. Dishelved and shabby it has fallen on hard times, like all the residents of the house.
Leaving in the height of spring is a double-edged sword. Mother Nature continues with her timeline and the flowers, shrubs, and trees despite my neglect are victorious and bloom in all their glory.
Grateful that I live to see one more season of lilacs, it is bittersweet knowing I must leave them.
The rich heady scent of lilacs is wafting in through my open kitchen windows, filling the house with their indescribable perfume. I breathe deeply, appreciating the moment knowing it’s the last time I will have that same experience. The sense memory takes me back to 2002 when these multiple lilacs were planted at each entrance and window so I would fill my home if only for a few weeks with that magical smell. I’m a few weeks, I will have to leave here and leave my beloved lilacs I so tenderly cared for.
Surrounded by the roses blooming and the rhododendrons in full glorious bloom I am nostalgic. And sad. But grateful to have one more season of my flowers.
And there is always Trader Joe’s to fill my home with lilacs next spring
My multiple magenta rhododendron bushes are in their full blooming glory soaring to the second story of my house. And each season soar beyond my expectations
For nearly 2 decades they’ve been left alone, save for nourishing food, allowed to grow to full glorious expression and they burst with exuberance unhampered. So prolific and free they take my breath away and more importantly inspire.
Likely the new tenants of this house will come in with a hacksaw and lop off their majesty that currently covers the downstairs windows that are filled with close-up images of these flowers.
But for me allowing them to rise unencumbered, to rise to their potential gives me immeasurable joy. I will hold this image in my mind moving forward.
I do what I can to persevere.
To create a gentle transition, a few days ago I chose to establish roots. Fortunate to have had rented this new place several months in advance I have slowly been bringing things over to make it more familiar, like my home.
I hung my parent’s mezuzah on the doorpost to the entrance to my soon to be new office/ studio in the house, the same mezuzah that hung in their home for over 60 years which they put up when they moved to their dream suburban LI home with a 5-month-old baby girl, me. The mezuzah like my parents stayed there the rest of their lives until I had the sad task of closing down that home 2 years ago, taking the mezuzah with me. It now has a new home. For the first of my mezuzahs, this room of my own seemed deserving of its historical significance.
For the occasion, I wore an old T-shirt of my mother’s emblazoned with the Yiddish word “balebooste” ( perfect homemaker) which she was, and it is her energy and supreme organizational skills that have served me well these past months of packing.
Along with the mezuzah I brought over a pot of fertile soil from my current garden to mix with the dirt in the bed in front of that door, edging it with a few transplanted plants that edged my current patio.
Both experiences grounded me in my transition.
Reaching out here, I realized is just as vital. Thank you for being part of the familiar.
You are a warrior. Thank you for sharing. Though you may feel alone, our hearts are with you.
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Thank you. I have had the great good fortune to have been helped and supported by loving and caring friends who have been invaluable in this pack-a -rama!
Sally, you have been a missed person, or at least your words have been. I loved the line you have fallen out of love with your house. it sounds like an old song, “I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you…” by Air Supply (I had to Google the singers as I could not remember). We think back on our houses and what we enjoyed about them – one in cul-de-sac, one with a great backyard, one with a great down stairs, one with a great master bath and closet, one with a great kitchen, and so on. But, your home is where you are. Make your new one all yours. Best wishes, Keith
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Thanks Keith. My new home will be filled with all the things I love, including my massive collection and it will feel like home sooner than I think. Because I had the opportunity to rent this place several months before the actual move-in date I have had the chance to get to know it, taking the relationship slow before I actually commit. But once I commit I’m all in!
Sally, that is an excellent way to get acclimated. Keith
It has been crucial and I am fortunate that I was able to work out this situation which on both a practical and emotional level have worked for my betterment.
We missed you, Sally! Welcome back!
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Thanks so much. It feels great to be back, here my home.
You are killing it, you really really are. Thank you so much for including us in your new life. I agree with Jmartin–you are not alone. You have a full contingent of cheerleaders out here! Zol zayn mit mazl! (I hope that’s right it was translated through google and good intentions!)
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You are just too sweet and kind and your thoughts touch me so. I love having you all in my life, sharing observations and history and can’t wait to be settled and get back to what I love best.
Beautifully written. Best of luck in your new home.
Thank you so much. I am ready to embark on the next chapter, one in which I feel ready to write!
When I recently drove past the house that my parents had lived in for 45 years (I spent 17 of those 45 years growing up there), I saw that the subsequent owners had cemented over the flowerbeds where my green-thumbed mother had lovingly cultivated her azaleas, tulips and peonies. Although I was initially miffed at this desecration of nature’s floral beauty, I realized fairly quickly that it wasn’t my childhood home that had been altered, but rather the attributes of a house, a structure. Sally, your home is wherever you are. Make sure to make it your own. And thanks for getting back to blogging. I missed your frequent literary contributions. All the Best!
Thank you so much for your well wishes and for sharing your own story. I have yet to drive by my childhood home and see the alterations the new folks dod to alter to make it their own. That had to be difficult seeing the new owners of your childhood home “paved over paradise.” But yes, it is just a structure in the end, though I attach deep sentiment to all objects and even menial things, ergo I am a collector.
Placing some of my familiar objects and images in my new place in advance of moving in has stamped it as my home already, easing the transition. The bones and structure of this new place spoke to me with their great charm and character. Quirkiness even. When friends visited it seeing it bare they remarked..”This is so Sally.” Nearly everything that is of great meaning to me will come with me and it is that and my spirit that will make it my home. I believe that even as that coexists with leaving a place I so loved and worked hard to make my own. Poking my head out a bit from the boxes and writing has been so necessary and I cannot get back to that being my focus. So much has gone on in the past few weeks that like my overstuffed cartons, I am bursting at the seam to write about. I look forward to seeing you here.
I too am sometimes bursting at the seams to write about my experiences, but often I get so bogged down in everyday life that I don’t devote enough time to the actual writing. I’ve found that commenting to your blog and others has been a godsend of sorts, as it forces me to write in the current timeframe and also allows me to be a bit creative in my thinking and responses.
When my parents purchased the home I spoke of above, I believe they were the 3rd occupants of the house since it was a pre-WWII construction and had been occupied for 30 years before my family got there. Consequently, for me it wasn’t as hard to clear out of that house as it was for a house in the Hamptons in which my family were the sole occupants since it’s construction. These thoughts reminded me of something a friend had told me a while back when he said that “we are all only temporary caretakers of structures and possessions. We are truly only owners of our own mental creations.” I consider writing (blogs), artwork and inventions, etc. as part of this latter grouping and consequently why it’s so important if you have a creative gene, to actually use it. Houses will come and go, but your creations are yours forever. Just something to think about.
I am so glad that commenting on my blog or others allows you the opportunity to be expressive in your thoughts. Writing in whatever form is vital and it essential to keep exercising that process.
My home, like my parent’s house , were brand new constructions though decades and worlds apart. My home was a custom-built house so my imprint is everywhere, as it is with the extensive gardens which are very difficult to leave. It was an empty, yet overgrown lot that became an empty canvas to me and allowed me to create a beautiful environment. The letting go of that is difficult.
Possesions are something else, and it is not so much the monetary value as the deep history and sentiment attached to them that draws me. And in some ways I do indeed acknowledge and honorthat I am their caretakers for now. I have a sense of continuity and respect for family objects and I am the custodian now until it gets passed on. Whether another generation truly cares for the things the way I do remains to be seen. I know I will have done my job in respecting and honoring those who came before me. That is all I can do.
I do not envy you … I hate moving under the best of circumstances, and having 20 years of accumulation to sort and move is my idea of a nightmare. That’s why we’re still in the rented townhouse we moved into 22 years ago … every time I think about packing it all up, I decide that it’s really not such a bad place after all! Best of luck in your new home!
It is indeed a challenge and having just gone through packing up my parent’s home of 60 years only 2 years ago, it has been overwhelming. Sadly it was not my choice, but I’m making the best of it and meeting the myriad challenges.
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Hang in there … remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and one day soon you will be able to take a whole day just for you … to sit and smell the flowers, read a book, or just take a nice long nap!
Thank you so much for your support and kindness. I am doing all that I can to get to that day of peace, and I think it will be sooner rather than later.
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I’m sure it will!!!
When it came time to downsize from a home where we’d lived for over half a century, we had the benefit of church friends who had us moved in an hour in two large trailer loads. One friend decided where we should put bits of furniture – locations they stayed at for years – and we felt very comfortable from the moment they left after the move. On the other hand, returning to the old home to clean up what was left and to organize it for sale, the pit of despair set in. The echo you mention was a new phenomenon, and very disquieting. When I cleaned out my mother and father’s toiletries, most of it dried out and out of date, so filler for the dumpster by the lilacs hedge I loved and missed already, I cried. The move had been too easy.
Though the circumstances of your move are tragic, I’m pleased you had the chance to save your collection of bits and pieces of the 20th Century. Likewise, placing the mezuzah in its new place must have been a reassuring moment, one that let you know all will be well, you’ve done what you must.
When I closed down my childhood home of 60 years, I so recall the feeling of cleaning out the toiletries of my parent’s cabinets and the finality of it. It is a deeply personal and intimate experience.
Where closing down that house was truly the end of the book, my move in the best sense feels like a new chapter and I am drawing on all my resources to create a good and positive one. Under great adversity, my positivity, creativity and survival instincts kick into overdrive and I will land on my feet, though at times I feel a bit wobbly. The new place has a huge empty basement which I have in anticipation been lining with shelves to store my hundreds of boxes of collectibles in the organized way it was in my current house.
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Hugs and encouragement in whatever form you need, Sally! It took a bit to get over the huge heirloom rhubarb bed I left for the next owner, who dug it all out: I could have brought some of it to my new apartment! Or to forgive them for digging out every rosebush, some heirloom climbers, others VERY expensive hybrids I bought and planted to give the next owner something special. What next, I wondered? Tear out the expensive fencing made of wrought iron? (Yes!) They even painted the white house a dove grey! How dare they! Then it hit me: they own it now, and the new color is quite attractive. Too bad we didn’t paint it that color. The roses and rhubarb… well, it is their home now and they put planters on the wrought iron railings on the front porch, a big improvement to the looks of the front of the house. And it is their home now.
Very happy for you on your new adventure! I dread what moving would be like for me, a fellow collector so I hope it is a pleasant experience for you.
Please kept on writing your blog. I really enjoy your observations and thoughts about life until some other blogs which we will not mention….