I couldn't help but dread going to the house today. I'm taking the light bulbs. The fucking light bulbs. Just so I don't have to buy new ones. Same with toilet paper, paper towels, cling wrap, and anything else remotely useful.
This is where I am in life now. I live in the living room of my friend Mike's one bedroom apartment. He's done everything he can to open the space to me and my dog Haggis. He has allowed me to make it a home. I have my desk, my bed, a TV and Playstation 3, an Ikea bookcase converted to a dresser, and some art supplies. I figured I'd scavenge everything from the old house for us to save a few bucks and show my gratitude.
So I swung by and set upon grabbing everything I could, and it was crushing. I thought it was bad when I still had stuff in there... That was nothing compared to how it feels to be back there now. It's so empty. It sounds hollow. It feels hollow. It is hollow. There's nothing left there to make that house a home. There hasn't been for a while; long before I moved the stuff I kept and sold the stuff I didn't.
Twelve years of our 14 together were spent there. The day we moved in, we had nothing. No furniture, no dishes, no bed, nothing. We slept in the living room on the floor and let the gas fireplace flicker through the night.
We loved it. Because it was ours.
The house is empty once again. Twelve years of working in various industries accumulating all of the stuff that makes the house a home, gone. It sounds a lot like it did then; loud and hollow. It looks like it did then, despite the remodeling. But it feels nothing like it did then.
The empty living room doesn't hold my imagination's pattern for a future with a sofa and love seat and big tv and floor-to-ceiling windows where there was once only wall, overlooking the forest. The empty kitchen contains none of the supplies or equipment that cooked our future Thanksgiving turkeys or future movie night pizzas or late night post workout meals. The dining room had none of my imagination's dream dinette set and decorations from every trip we'd ever taken.
It's just an empty house whose walls whisper incessantly, with nothing to block the sounds of the echoes. It's oppressive.
I ran in and took the light bulbs and the air filters from the attic. I took all the ziplock bags. I took all the cling wrap and aluminum foil and paper towels and toilet paper. And at some point, while looking in a cabinet, I saw a lunch bag I bought for my ex-wife.
It was a nylon fold-over bag shaped like the old "brown paper bag" lunch bags, but it was creme colored and featured a cute kitty cat face, complete with whiskers and a pink nose. I bought it for her a few years ago. I loved making and packing her lunch every day. I wrote a little note every day so she'd have a little smile on the hard days and a big one on the good days.
The bag had disappeared a while ago. I remember being a little sad it was gone, but we made up for it by buying a comparable doggie version. Mystery solved: it fell behind a bunch of crap. I picked it up and opened it. In it was a note I wrote her. It had been read -- I could tell because when I wrote them, I folded them into thirds, and when she read them, she folded them into quarters. It was sort of a code between us so we would know the old from the new.
I don't remember hitting the floor. I just remember kneeling there with snot and tears pouring out of my face and landing all over this lunch bag that looked like a cat. I didn't even read the note. What was the point? No matter what I wrote or drew in there at the time, the message was simple: it said "I love you."
It's irrelevant now, as is the kitty bag and the lunches and the furniture and the life I once had. It was written. It was read. It's done and over with.
Nothing left to do but clean up the mess and move on.
And so I did. I pulled myself up to my feet, threw away the kitty bag, mopped up my lamentations, grabbed the box of stuff I came to get, and left.
As I was pulling out of the driveway, I began to question if what had happen actually happened? Did I actually collapse? And before that, did I really just move in with my first ever roommate? And before that, did I really get divorced? Was this life I had even real? Did we really love each other? Were we really happy?
In the garbage was a kitty-shaped lunch bag with a re-folded note that, despite not having read it since I wrote it years ago, I knew proved everything I needed to know.
I left my old house feeling very much like it is now: empty; my head loud with the echoes of all the memories of everything that happened there.
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