Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Clean House

I haven't done much quilting lately. I've been wrapped up in cleaning out the house that I grew up in, so we can rent it out, which has been a pretty rough experience.

It's also clear to me that even though I have to do this crummy thing, I've had the good fortune to be able to take my time to do it. I keep reminding myself of all the ways that I'm a lucky person while I'm doing it, because it keeps me from feeling sorry for myself when I feel like crying because I'm sending our orange juice pitcher to Goodwill, when we used it to make orange juice every week for years when I was a kid and now it will maybe be bought by someone who has no idea that it's this beautiful familiar object that was a part of my daily family life for years and years.

And I don't even like orange juice!

My dad has been helping me out, which I really appreciate, and he keeps telling me that these are "just things", which is true, sort of. It feels so self indulgent to be upset about something like throwing away our old Rolodex when in truth it's a luxury to have this time to mourn for these plastic objects.

And in all honesty, it's not really the Rolodex. Letting go of the house means that portion of my life is really over. It was easy to ignore when I didn't have to pack it up, but now it's really clear that the family that lived there is really gone.

If there is anything I've learned, it's that part of living is dealing with the ending of things. It can be sad and heartbreaking, but it's part of the deal. I've been taking pictures of things that I have no reason to keep, but don't want to forget entirely as a way to deal with sending these parts of my life onto new places, like Goodwill or the dump.

For example, at the back of our lazy susan, we found an old box of my favorite brand of mac and cheese. My poor grandmother came to visit when my brother and I were kids and made us homemade mac and cheese, but we kept asking for the box kind.

They stopped making this brand, so it was a kick to see the old box. I always liked it better than Kraft. Before you ask, I'm not going to make it. It expired in 2001, so I think I'll just keep the photo and throw the box away!

I threw away a lot of Barbies with missing limbs and home haircuts. A lot of them were packed in to this carrying case, which I think I loved more than the Barbies inside it as a kid.

Maybe I will be Golden Dream Barbie for Christmas. It's a pretty sweet outfit, and I'll only need to grow about a foot in the leg for it to work.

This Fisher Price medical set was in the same set of boxes as the Golden Dream Barbie case. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw it. It was a fun set of tools. My friend Rebecca and I spent a lot of time jamming the needle to give shots with into each other's arms under the guise of playing doctor.

I still have to tackle my bedroom, but the house is mostly packed up and cleaned out. One of the last things I did this weekend was clean out the window seat in my mom's bedroom, and jammed in the back behind happy birthday banners and party hats (and with two books on improving sex in marriage, thanks mom, this is the third time I've found sexual improvement books with notes from you and dad written in the margins) I found a journal my mom kept when my brother and I were very young children. She was 29 at the first entry, which is about the age I am now.

The very first entry was about a time when she was feeling sad, and it echoed a lot of what I was feeling at the time. It was just so nice to find that, to have that connection to my mom, and to know that she felt these things too, and wrote about them like I'm writing about them now. I'm not the kind of person who believes in fate, but this was such an unexpected comfort to have.

It's to be expected that there will be good times and bad times. This is  not a good time. there is something to be said for the bad times though, when in the emotional dumps I am much more likely to turn to thoughts about the breadth and importance of life and how to live it, thoughts about how my day to day activities are weaving into a larger fabric and where I want that design to go. These are hard things to think about, that's probably why I do it for such short time periods. The point is, if I keep a journal maybe I can tie these periods of...
So I'm going to try and follow my mom's words and only dwell on this for a short time, and then get back to fabric and design. Well, it's not exactly what she said, but it will make me feel better all the same.


Tabatha said...

What a lovely, sad, reflective post. I just wanted to let you know that I've fumbled my way through your entire blog while you've been absent, I'm glad you're back!

You have a fan.

amber said...

Wow what a huge undertaking. I can't even imagine. We had to move my husbands parents and the stuff wasn't even mine and I was overwhelmed. It's fun that you can find these little bits that bring back lots of good memories though. I think your smart to take pictures of a lot of the things. I should have thought of that when my mother in law wanted to keep some random thing. And dude that doctor set is awesome. I totally remember it too!

smazoochie said...

I am doing the exact same thing myself now days. My Dad died in 2003, my Mom moved into a nursing home (dementia) last year; I've been slowly plowing through more than 50 years of life in our old home. I know it is heartbreaking. But isn't wonderful to find these hugs and encouragements from the past?
Hang in there.
(I am finding and keeping for quilt projects lots of old clothing.)