Archive for June, 2014

June 25, 2014

Momma’s Email

Momma’s email stung. I miss Jake and Ike. I wish they’d never gone to college. It’s not the same without them. I’m sitting here in winterland Chiberia, worrying about the projected sales of stickers too old to be retro, while my nine year old sister – my only sister among four younger siblings, my baby sister who still sucks her thumb in her sleep, my sister who climbs all over me like I’m a tree, who finds something to perform or exhibit at every family gathering – lies on the couch with the aches and shivers and occasional vomiting and more occasional groaning of influenza. Now I feel sick. Ready to book the next one way flight to Albany or load up my car and wish the roommates the best of lives before driving seventeen hours. To abandon a recent promotion for the baby girl without whom I can’t imagine life, but live it every day.

But instead I read a few lines preceding.  Abe and Joe have been keeping her entertained. The fifteen and eleven year old, come into their own. They’re the older brothers now. They’re the big boys; the head honchos. They are the ones who know best, who know her best. The two most affected by the move. The two extroverts struggling as nomads, as aliens, as their biblical namesakes. One who was vocal and nothing less than hesitant about the northeast, who does not hide his anger, but is slowly, painfully, ever so fucking painfully – like slivers under your fingernails – growing, forging his resolve and identity. And one, who vocalized nothing but withdrew into the core of himself, steeling himself in the absence of peers into a self-reliance unmatched among his siblings; one – pantomiming before he could talk – who prefers physical contact to written correspondence, and written correspondence to faceless phone chatter.

But in spite of their solitude, their independence, their anger, their despondence, their frustration, their ongoing depression, they have such grace and mercy to spend time with their weepy sister. Their weepy little sister who cries for the absent older two living hours away, who she won’t see, who worry about sales numbers and final grades, who can’t spend their hours entertaining her other than by phone. Whose absence enables the others to become men, unnoticed, unappreciated, but necessary.

June 14, 2014

In Atrophy

The end isn’t near, it’s here. It gave its warning shots across the bow. Scotty’s pictures, black and white photography with black frames, mounted over the half-bookshelf in the hall, were gone, holes emptied of nails in their place. I had never paused to inspect them closely, just acknowledged their presence as one of Sarah’s touches giving our walls an artful caress. Now the emptiness of the wall with bore holes screamed like a loon with camel hair cassock and sandwich board soliciting next life preparation.

The next week the lamp from my favorite reading nook was removed from its locale. The last publicly displayed item Scotty planned to take into his new life with Sarah. Another piece I had accepted, with much pleasure, into my life and become accustomed to it. Unsought, but appreciated, and now gone. The spring sun through the windows keeps the space usable, but it’s a conclave no more.

The house is in atrophy. It’s not just Scotty’s absence, but that is the harbinger.

I’ve lived with Scotty longer than anyone who doesn’t share my last name. We had never met before he walked in the apartment that September. Four consecutive years of disparate lives; we would occasionally both be home during waking hours, but usually we had to schedule any extended sightings.  The insomniac night owl and the regimented nine to fiver. An apartment, two houses, and six other roommates circulating. During the Snopacolypse he was an EMT in The City and he slept at the station for days. The overgrown house with the plumbing disaster. The day we walked in to find a roommate unconscious in a pool of Cheerio-vomit. The house with attached garage and leaky basement where Scotty earned his Master’s degree.

He and Sarah signed the lease on the apartment they’ll live in after their wedding early, and he’s been moving in there, not too slowly. I don’t know the last time he was actually in our house. Some of his stuff is still here, shelves, old bed, mini fridge, freezer, homebrew kit; basically I live in his storage unit.

This is the last month, not only with Scotty, but David, too. It has been four years with David also, but not consecutive. As his wedding has approached his presence has gradually diminished, though his possessions have all remained. His absence is not as jarring as Scotty’s, although that could be just because it hasn’t really started yet. He moves to his new place in the couple weeks as I move to mine.

He’s been the stoic observer to my volatile relationships, sipping whiskey sympathetically as I nervously pace my way through anxieties and neuroticisms, silent witness to my aimless rage. He’s watched me plunge to the abyss of Assassin’s Creed and Community in attempts to alleviate heartbreak. When the plumbing disaster rendered the kitchen unusable, we subsisted on Chinese takeout and hydrated on beer. Between the two of us, we’ve imbibed a lot of whiskey and vodka over the past three years.

And when my rage has given pause, he’s had the well-placed, unexpected word of encouragement. Even in the morning when my rage is most piqued and the last thing I want is to speak.

The shelves are empty and corrugated is everywhere. In less than a week, there’ll be no furniture in these rooms and only kitchen wares to be divided. There is a torn window screen and two bathroom towel hooks to be repaired. The Goodwill donations have already begun, clothing, speakers, lamps, tube televisions; I wonder how much they’ll keep and find useful and how much they’ll just discard.

The end is here. In the next two weeks this house will be polished, emptied and scrubbed of the inhabitants. We will be scattered like grass seed to grow thin, but sufficient, roots in new dirt.