Saturday, February 12, 2011

Here at the End of Time

The old house as I prefer to remember it.

I hadn't seen Tiger Grumpyface since the last really bad storm (more than a week), and I hadn't seen Tiger Whitestockings in two days. At first I wasn't too worried; the food was still getting eaten. But today I saw not one but two strange quats eating off the Tigers' plate, and for the first time I started to suspect foul play.

Instead, when I went out with their dinner just now, both Tigers appeared and seemed eager to see me. Whitestockings had lost some weight. But all is well. Phew.


It was all over at the old house by a quarter to two. I felt overwhelmingly sad as I pointed the car away, oppressively sad. But when I arrived home and came into the new house, I saw that my life was here, and was immediately cheered. It's been a damn lot of work, and it's not over, and the future -- as the fortune-tellers say -- is in doubt. But home is here.

That's a mighty powerful three words.

I was up at seven-thirty to do my chores and feed us all, started out with plenty of time but somewhere along the way I spent too much time online and ended up running a bit late. The mysterious plower had been back, and this time he had shoveled out the path to the front door as well. JA, my lawyer, was no more than a couple of minutes behind me pulling into the driveway.

I was glad that she came, because it was a help in many ways. But helping me wasn't her main motive in coming -- she was hoping to score some Free Stuff.

I was okay with that. She didn't take anything without asking first, and the auctioneer was leaving a fair amount of stuff behind. I still can't understand his thinking. Some of what he took was absolute rubbish, fit only for Goodwill; meanwhile, he left some perfectly good and salable things behind. I didn't want them; or, if I did, I didn't have room for them. As an example, Mom had a set of six giant children's blocks that were made out of wood. She used them for both packing and display purposes at shows and in her shop. I'd love to keep them, but there's no room, what would I do with them? I think they'd bring something at an auction, but Steve the auctioneer was disdainful. He tried to take two small, worthless, cardboard display pieces that I expressly wanted to leave for the new owners, but he won't take the blocks.

He is a loud, brash person. He is completely bald (not even having eyebrows). He persisted in leaving the main door wide open to the cold, even when no one was carrying anything out. 

The morning was a long emotional replay of the last two times that the auctioneers had come to tear the place apart. They made a terrible mess, again. In my old bedroom I pulled down a last couple of posters. I looked out of the window for the last time. I hid in there until the tears stopped.

JA sat down with me and told me about the auction. It did not go as well as anticipated; at any rate, JA thinks that we may end up with about half of what they had estimated. As she flipped through the catalog and showed me the lots, and the prices they had gone for, I felt sick and sad. It is galling and depressing to see my mother's life reduced to numbers, and such low numbers at that. Some few things went for more than expected, but the vast majority hovered at or below the estimate. I hated even seeing that catalog. I wanted her to put it away.

The day seemed to drag on so slowly. It was cloudy out, so the light was tricky. By noon, I was sure that it was coming up on four o'clock. I was astonished to see that it was just past one when the auctioneers left.

I gave JA a key to the house and one to the small barn. Then, with both of our cars loaded to the roof, we drove down to the neighbor's house. One of the new owners is his son-in-law. We spent about a half hour there, an awful lot of formalities to go through just to drop off the keys. And that was it.

I think it will take me two more trips, not because I have so much left to take, but because it's nearly all bulky. There is a wooden deer for the lawn that I am keeping, and a giant rooster sign that my mother and I made when she was trying to have a shop there at the house. There's a stepladder that's going to have to go down the middle of the car.

I'm going to try to get it all tomorrow.

And then, suddenly, my life is going to open up again, at last. As I unloaded the car this evening, I realized that next weekend will be Entirely Free. Tomorrow, this chapter in my life will be over.

-- Freder.

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