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Posts Tagged ‘the stress of moving’

I am sitting on a burgundy leather couch in the Satellite coffee shop. I used to come here and write with a small group of people, we did Bones-style writing, and I remember how much the music bothered me. Today, now, it’s a bluesy piece with an organ played low and a woman’s smoky voice. Lounge music. It all sounds the same to me. I wish they’d turn the volume down just a hair or two.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day observed. I think Wednesday might be the real Memorial Day. Is it May 30? I go tomorrow with Dad to Costilla, to the graveyard where his mom and dad are buried. It’s our tradition for this day. I told someone about this and she said, Isn’t Memorial Day for soldiers who’ve died? I don’t know, I told her. All I know is this is what we do, me and Dad. Not always, but for the past several years. Maybe seven or eight, I don’t know. Dad has done it for a long time. I joined him back when I realized it was a time to get to know Dad better. To get to know where he came from. I spent so much time knowing Mom and her parents. Dad’s were dead by the time any of us came around.

And now that musician with the head of curls, the one that Julia Roberts married for a while. What’s his name? That’s who’s playing over the speaker now, and I’m trying to think what I might have to say about Memorial Day that this song is preventing me from getting to. Nothing, perhaps. Nothing except Memorial Day seems to have become a holiday for grilling steaks or hamburgers, drinking beer. Opening up the pool. That’s fine. It’s good to have a day off, and for most people, when they have a chance to finally sit back and not think of much of anything, they think about their grandparents or parents or uncles or whoever it is that’s passed on and out of their lives.

Dad will meet me at my house at 7 in the morning. The girls went home tonight with Mom. This is about the first chance I’ve had to just sit down and write. To check on the blog. To do much of anything besides unpacking and organizing and staining those cabinet doors I took off the cupboard below the bathroom sink over a month ago. And now we’re living in the new house, things are all over the floor, paintings and photos. We have so much stuff. I thought we were getting rid of things along the way but somehow we didn’t lose enough.

And now an upbeat song by one of those young female vocalists like Avril Lagrine, or whatever her name is. I keep thinking my alarm has gone off, there’s so much noise in here now. Someone ordered an icy drink, the blender is blending, and the guitar accompanying the singer is going wild. I suddenly feel a sense of melancholy. Like maybe these trips I take for granted aren’t going to last forever. Dad is 83, and as I left him today after dropping off the girls I noticed the tremor in his hand was worse than ever. I love that man so much. Isn’t it just like life that you realize how much you love someone as the time they have left with you starts to get small, like a dot in the distance as you move away.

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Digging in the dirt, they say, is relaxing. Putting your fingers into moist sand, part sand part clay, sandier the dirt, better the drainage, bigger the cottonwoods.

When we first moved to our house, Jim and I took a spring and dug up all the Bermuda grass. Growing like a network underground. They say, too, you can’t get rid of Bermuda grass, do your best then put cardboard down, dirt over that, start anew.

Jim’s wisdom less or more conventional, we built a screen, an old screen from a window with a two-inch frame. He threw shovels-ful of dirt onto the screen and I tamped all the clods out until each screenful was left with stubby hairy Bermuda grass, rooty and ugly.

We planted a native garden, and I forget the plant names. Except for Apache plume, something cotton, Snow-in-Summer, penstimens and sages. One sage we called “prairie,” but now I think of it as “rabbit” for how fast it multiplied. One year we had a section of Shasta daisies I was so proud of until I learned some people have fields of them.

In that yard are so many pieces of us. Our joint tamping like a native beat–ay, ay, ay, ay. Dirt and grass and seed, it’s indigenous to every one of us, I’m sure we’re all made of that if you break us down.

Roger’s buried there, in the front. Rudy, too. And there’s the peach tree we planted when Em was born. Both my girls came to us in the rooms with adobe walls, tall Mexican sunflowers the year Dee came, and with Em a transient season, a season of hope.

It’s hard leaving it all behind, and now as it approaches, the final sale, I can only cry and think this is natural, too. The dirt is still here, the ashes of my dogs long melded and turned to mineral. A plant will grow there even for the next family that comes. The peaches will be sweet, we made them so, and maybe even a Shasta daisy will grow in the spot I left it.

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I’m overwhelmed by the new house. It has a lot of land, which makes me feel like I’ve added a new vocation to my repertiore. Farmer. Or at least Caretaker. I see all the little elms that need to be cut or pulled up by the roots. And dead sunflower stalks from last season. Lillies that sat all winter in 100-gallon trash bins, the water rank. I’m supposed to put them out in the pond this month. We agreed to keep the seller’s 30-year-old bull snake, which is waking up from a hibernation of sorts. Soon there must be a baby rat for feeding.

And that’s just the tip of the outdoor-chore iceberg.

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to create a life that looks a lot prettier on the outside than it is on the inside? I’ve gone so many years watching other people, coveting what I presumed they had. And not just the material stuff. Not to say I didn’t envy the tangibles. I did. But mostly it was all the emotional benefits I imagined came with the stuff.

Will a bigger house and more land make me happier? Busier, perhaps. Maybe the demands of the new house will relegate writing and drawing to the realm of “hobby.” (Remember hobbies? Mom played poker while raising kids. Dad did oil painting after he retired. And he wrote a story of his early life, birth to age 14.) Either way it’s too late. If writing and drawing are passions, I’ve just given myself an even bigger test of how to fulfill them in my life.

Last night I finished a drawing I started Saturday morning. It’s a vato standing in front of a microphone singing. I don’t know who he is or why I drew him. He ended up with thick black hair slicked back, a la Eddy Munster

At this moment, sitting in my cubicle at work, writing about the new place, I think I’m pretending to be an artist and writer. It’s all part of this desire for the intangibles. I don’t want writing and art to be my spare-time hobbies. I don’t even like the word. Hobby.

Mom and Dad were happy with their lives. Why do I want so much more?

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