Saturday, May 13, 2006

Clean Up

It's spring clean up time here. That means you pay the town for a permit to rid your house of large, cumbersome things that would not sell at a yard sale. This included a mustard colored stove and fridge, shag carpet, piles of old wood and countertops that were in our garage. When we moved here a year ago, I brought my appliances which were new and neutrally white. We moved the resident stove and fridge into the garage since we missed spring clean up last year. They sat in the garage until last week, when L moved them to the curb and asked me to clean them up. I do so grudgingly. It reminded me of my under-the-table cleaning job I had in London. As a student I could only work part-time, and to supplement that I cleaned. The places I worked at were homes used for low income housing. Often they were private homes being leased to the council, and the neighborhoods varied. Sometimes the tenants moved out in the middle of the night, leaving their dishes on the table, clothes on the floor, and pictures on the wall. It was if they got up to go to work and school and never came home. It was damp, grundgy, cold and eerie work. The worst jobs were the ones where the people left contents in their fridge, and then lost their electricity. I gagged a lot cleaning those fridges and greasy kitchens. It was humbling for me, and although I really hate to clean I think it's not below me.

I put a FREE sign on the fridge and stove on our lawn, and they are now gone. I wish we did that last year. I hate stuff like that hanging around. I am going to have a yard sale next month and get rid of some of the other material baggage I have. It will feel good to let that go.

Today I drove out to the farm to see my mom. I took her to my friend the potter's gallery for the Mother's Day sale. We had an ice cream at John's in Liberty and then went to pick up my plants at the green house in Montville. It's a small town, with dirt roads and a mix of old Maine people and newcomers. It's the place I was going to live, until my marriage ended. I had lots of feelings today, from guilty memories and genuine curiosity of what my life would have been like if things didn't change so rapidly.

I asked my mom if she minded if we drove by the house. My husband and I built the house together. We designed it, and it was built and sheetrocked and then we did the rest. I wiped down and painted every wall in that house. I worked for 5 months along side my husband, doing a lot of different stuff. I had worked years before that to make perennial beds, and lugged water there and tended my gardens. I dreamt about baking bread and making a home there, but that wasn't possible. It's the place where he chose to die, right down the street from the Keller's house, whose children I babysat in high school. Another half mile down is where Martha and her family live. She babysat me when I was a kid. Next door was Mike, and his wife and baby. They tiled and carpeted the floors while their baby lay in the stroller and teethed. I was very connected to the neighborhood in one way or another, and the town in some way. When he died, I felt so bad to bring that horrible experience to those people. I felt like I ruined it for them.

The house, it turned out, did not belong to me. It was turned over to the estate, his family. The $120,000 loan that was taken out to build the house was my responsibility, although I had nothing to show for it. I had considered moving into the house and renting a room to help pay for the mortgage, but a lawyer pointed out to me that by signing a pre-nup, I had waived my rights away. The family inherited the home, and I the debt. That's what he wanted.

I made a choice and now I have what I want- peace, independence and love.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.