Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

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  • Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Hiraeth

    I’m still a little shaken over what happened yesterday. Life sometimes gives me what I need, especially when I don’t even know that I need it.

    It started with a suggestion.

    You haven’t seen grandma’s and grandpa’s house in years, have you? The people who own it now have really kept up the outside. Would you like to see?
    My mom’s offered a few times now, and I’ve always declined. That house was my sanctuary, and it is kept carefully and perfectly in my head – the magnolia tree in front, the wrought-iron posts, the back hallway lined with cupboards, the long, screened back porch, the yard with my grandpa’s rose garden, grape arbor, and of course the swing set he built for my mom and uncle, still in perfect condition when my cousins and I spent our weekends there.
    It’s changed. I saw it once – only once – the autumn after the new owners tore out the wrought-iron posts and replaced them with wood. It was more than enough for me.

    Would you like to see it? We’ll be passing close by. New owners now. They’ve torn down the garage.
    Sure.

    Why I agreed this time, I don’t know. I was tired, the boyos had acted up during lunch, we were on our way to show them off to the office ladies at the factory where my dad works, and with the boyos’ moods, I knew it wouldn’t go well.

    And I wanted to preserve my memory, to keep something with me that wouldn’t change. My life changes radically about every four years. Last time, it was the birth of the boyos. Before that, I was fired for blowing the whistle on a 65-year-old pervert who cornered a 19-year-old co-worker in his office. I went freelance after that and never looked back.
    Before that, it was the college graduation and marriage double-whammy.
    All big changes. But all anticipated and brought about by me.
    Now it’s all changing again, and I have no control over it, and I don’t know what to do.
    The bookstore is going away. Maybe forever, maybe not. I don’t know what life looks like after that.
    I don’t know where I want to be.

    My mom made a right and we were on the old street, slowing down to take a look at the third house on the right. There it was, still painted white, but with its new posts. The magnolia long gone.
    On cue, the front door opened, and a man stepped out with his dog, a Jack Russell Terrier of all things. He looked to be in his seventies. He smiled, lifted his arm and waved.

    We turned into the driveway as if we’d planned this.

    He came over to the van.
    My father built this house, my mom said.
    Did he? We’ve wondered about its history.
    Then:
    Come in.
    Now my mom hesitated.
    I don’t think I can…
    Come on. Come in. Let me show you.
    He gestured and turned. My mom with her tendency to please, (which she handed down to me for good or ill) still hesitated,
    I…can’t…
    looked at me with my hand on the door handle, shook her head a little, then opened her own door. She followed the man up to the house as I let my complaining boyos out of the van. They quieted down immediately; a blessing.
    He took us around the side of the house where the attached garage used to be, and we entered the back porch, now enclosed with windows and heated in the winter. We met his wife there, and she took our unexpected visit in stride.
    Oh yes! We’ve wondered about the house. All the neighbors are pretty new, and don’t know much about the history…
    Oh, well, my father built it himself in 1945, when it was almost impossible to get building supplies. It’s made of cinder blocks – great for insulating now, isn’t it? None of the windows quite matched…
    I looked around at the back yard. The swing set was gone, but in its place was a tidy vegetable garden. Everything was changed, but beautiful and thriving. Then I noticed one flowering bush was still in its place, trimmed and shaped and in bloom.

    We went inside. The man had owned an interior remodeling business before he retired, and it showed in the new kitchen. The layout was the same but everything else had changed. If you’d blindfolded me and dropped me into the middle of it, I might have been struck by a vague feeling of familiarity, but that’s all.
    I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be in the house anymore. What if I wouldn’t remember my grandparent’s house after this?
    Come on, into the living room.

    I looked around, trying to place the walnut dinning table back where it belonged. The carpets were new, the paint a different color. I took another hesitant step…
    and the floor creaked.
    It creaked the way it always had, a sound I’d completely forgotten. With that sound, I wasn’t in a remodeled house anymore. I was back home at grandma’s, at Christmastime with the tree, the presents, the candies and cookies in their silver trays on the dinning table. It was summer, and I was fourteen on my way to the den to watch MTV. It was spring and I was seven, coming in from the swings to get a book and then head back out to the hammock under the lilacs.
    I looked around and whispered to myself. Grandma. Grandpa.
    We toured the rest of the house, saw where some of the built-ins had been removed, and re-built into a corner cabinet.
    The windows had been replaced, the plaster repaired. The tile floor in the bathroom had stayed the same. Not much else. Nothing else.
    We thanked the couple profusely, and my mom promised to send photos of the old house.
    You know the address? The man asked.
    My mom recited it for him before she got the joke.
    In the van, she said her dad would be proud of the way the house looks now. Very proud.

    I’m still not sure how to take this unexpected gift. Was it a way of showing me that the coming changes will be an improvement? Or that I will always have my memories? A few days ago, my dad remarked that you must never hesitate, and always take the opportunities that are presented to you, because life is short, and things don’t always come round again. Was this a demonstration of that?

    I don’t know.

    What do you think?

    14 people left me a love letter:

    Anonymous Anonymous wrote in a love letter...

    Ha ha! You're in the midwest! Urine the midwest? Hmm... You sould take solace in the fact that the old place wasn't scraped flat to make a mini-mall or tire emporium (or, as it's the midwest, Wal*Mart).

    Breathe deeply, the air of pollen, hazardous fertilizer ingredients, and despair. Then come home quickly before your lesser half goes fully peculiar.

    Cheers,

    Stucco (who's not gonna sign up for any damned Blogger account, regardless how many mind control tactics they throw at me)

    11:29 AM, June 07, 2006  
    Anonymous clowncar wrote in a love letter...

    Places have memories, just like people. Particularly tragic memories leave ghosty scars, but most place memory is much subtler.

    Really nicely written, by the way. I felt I was by your side, loking at the place.

    By the way, I have clearer memories of that Farrah Fawcett poster than of anything I learned in high school. A nipple is worth a thousand words!

    4:28 PM, June 07, 2006  
    Blogger Irrelephant wrote in a love letter...

    Nancy Dancy, I felt that one so deep in my heart that I wanted to cry out. Durn gal, go easy on an old man.

    5:17 PM, June 07, 2006  
    Blogger Des_Moines_Girl wrote in a love letter...

    You always have the most amazing things happen to you! I think you should give this couple your contact information and if they ever decide to sell the house you should BUY it!!!!

    BTW - I miss our e-mail conversations when I'm at work and should be working. Come home soon!!! :-)

    8:07 PM, June 07, 2006  
    Anonymous O wrote in a love letter...

    In the end, I think that this chance meeting was very therapeutic. Hard to believe that Stucco came by. Whatcha know about that? His quote to me last night was "Didn't want to leave you all by your onesie and have you go all peculiar." Unfortunately, that time is long past. I'm a bookseller for God's sake - how's it get more peculiar? Miss you and the boyos deeply.
    O

    9:11 PM, June 07, 2006  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Anon: Who the hell is this jerk pissing on my memories? Ah, Stucco! How the hell are ya, man? :-)

    Clowncar: Thankee. Why am I not surprised about the nipple-thing?

    Irrelephant: Sorry, sir. Better dreams tonight for you. :-)

    DMG: I would LOVE to buy it. I don't think they have any plans to move though. But if they do...
    I miss you too. I'll call you when I get home. :-)

    O: You've sniffed enough book dust in your time, that's for sure. We miss you too.

    Big wet sloppy kisses to you all. Except you, Clowncar. That's just...incestuous. I'll save it for lil' Peewee. ;-)

    11:07 PM, June 07, 2006  
    Blogger Nixxie wrote in a love letter...

    I had the almost the same thing happen a few years before I moved. I drove by my great grandmothers home and stopped outside. Beautiful house, lots of memories. I knocked on the door and a young lady answered and I told her who I was and she immediately let me in. I am glad she did. I got to go through the house and see all the things they had done to it. It still looked the same, just different paint and new windows.

    Lovely memory.

    Your dad is right, never hesitate.

    12:02 AM, June 08, 2006  
    Blogger Spc. Freeman wrote in a love letter...

    A few years ago, my parents moved out of my childhood home, and into a place in the country. Shortly afterward, the new owners murdered the old place with their renovations.

    Sure, it was a little run-down. Sure it needed a new coat of paint, new carpets, new wallpaper (definitely). But with it's beautiful porch and well-shaded position within a deep copse of maple, I loved that home.

    Sure, it might have been a little ghetto, but it still pissed me off.

    6:43 AM, June 08, 2006  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Nix: Good for you, for knocking on the door. You cannot miss an opportunity. Every time I start to lose my faith in good people, I get stories like yours.

    Freeman: Hi there! Nice to meet you. Sorry to hear about your old home. It doesn't matter how it looked to anyone else, ghetto or mansion; it was your home.
    I just checked out your blog. Take care and be safe. How much longer are you over there?

    1:21 PM, June 08, 2006  
    Blogger Dantares wrote in a love letter...

    That is absolutely so wonderfully brilliant! I couldn't think of a greater torment that a place I love being changed completely out of recognition. To go and find it the samem with nothing changed but the accumulated debris of a life not that of the houses occupant....that would be worse. But the floorboard! that is such a strong image.
    what an uplifting idea.
    Dantares.

    6:06 AM, June 09, 2006  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    It was a sound my memory had failed to capture, so I was thankful for the reminder. It's now tucked safely away between the bottle of 'light through the kitchen window' and the folded up smell of breakfast sausages.

    8:06 AM, June 09, 2006  
    Blogger Lisa wrote in a love letter...

    You should probably warn me if you're going to go and make me CRY for goodness sake!

    That was just beautiful. And I'm so glad for you to have that little sneak peak at your future's goodness. Times of uncertainty tend to make the air vibrate a bit...hold on to your hat!

    2:29 PM, June 09, 2006  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Aww Lisa, thanks! Sorry about the tears. I'll email you back soon as I get home...

    8:48 AM, June 10, 2006  
    Blogger Jonathon S.B. Tiercel wrote in a love letter...

    I deal with life and death everyday - I choose life, Nancy...and so do you...

    12:16 PM, June 13, 2006  

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