My Friends Are Going To Ditch Me
August 26, 2017
On Friday, we sold our home in Connecticut. At least I’m hoping that’s how things pan out. As I write, I’m on a Norwegian Air flight somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean imagining all of the nasty surprises that could prevent us from closing—the sudden death of the buyer, an argument over the patio furniture Walt insists on leaving on the deck, nuclear Armageddon thanks to Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, and so on. It ain’t over ‘til the Fat Lady sings; everybody knows that.
This whole house-selling thing has been a two-year process. We had a three-car garage full of shit to clear out, two attics, two basements, seven bedrooms, and a thousand closets stuffed to the rafters with kid-related junk. Not to mention a broken down, tire-less school bus to remove from the back woods.
God, the crap that had to go: the toys, books, bikes, skis, outgrown clothes, kid mementos, old furniture, and enough Christmas decorations to deck out the Vatican.
Seeing as the kids didn’t want any of their precious stuff (no duh!), we brought in an enormous dumpster and threw a lifetime of detritus away. It made me sick to see the waste. Sure, the useful stuff we donated to each and every charity shop within a 20-mile radius–I’m telling you, these people cringed whenever they saw my car pull in–but there’s only so much of that back and forth stuff one can do.
And don’t talk to me about Ebay and Craig’s list. I did that, too, which is no easy feat for someone who lives in Ireland.
Unlike Walt, who cries at those sappy AT&T commercials, I don’t put a lot of meaning into things. With very few exceptions, things don’t house memories for me. I don’t equate throwing out 10 tons of Legos with washing my hands of my (adult) children, unlike some people around here.
No, my problem is, I come from a family that abhors waste. It’s in my DNA to save furry leftovers lest someone in India go hungry, and rubber bands because one day I’ll need to tie off a bag of peas before putting it back in the freezer. God forbid you can’t find one of those when you need it. So imagine this level of, what shall I call it, divestiture.
Throughout this whole process, I did my best not to think about it, the waste, but that never works well. Instead, I suppressed the related anxiety by eating myself out of house and home. Now, I’ve got to go on one serious mother of a diet.
Last week, the last of our furnishings went up on the auction block. The gorgeous dining room table we’d had custom made for us—17 feet of solid cherry polished to a sheen— went for pennies on the dollar. It’s the one piece I thought about, obsessed about, whenever I woke up in the middle of the night this past week. That table, well, it had meaning. It represented a life, the best of it, and I couldn’t bear thinking of it sliding out the front door for a song, carted away by a stranger who doesn’t know its history. Around it, we had such fun. Oh, the convocations.
I worry that, now that we’ve sold the house, our friends in Connecticut will toss us on the heap. That, because we’re no longer on campus, it’s simply time to write us off and move on.
There’s that other adage: out of sight, out of mind.
It’s not like they don’t understand how ridiculous it is for us to hang on to this ginormous place when it’s just the two of us, after all lots of people our age are facing the prospect of downsizing. They get the high winter heating bills, and the mortgage, and the taxes, and the lawn maintenance, and the upkeep required to keep the thing habitable. The worries during winter storms.
But. I know what can happen when you move away.
When I’d moved to Iran all those years ago, I was horrified to discover that I could be forgotten so easily. I mean, like that. Some of my friends, including Jean, who’d been with me in the labor room when I delivered Iman, never once answered my long letters. She figured, I guess, that she’d never see me again, so why bother.
This, of course, was long before the advent of the Internet or social media. But still…
By nature, I’m a catastrophic thinker, I’ll admit that. I can track that tendency back to my alcoholic upbringing. I fear that, the minute my Connecticut friends can no longer call me for an impromptu coffee date at LaSalles; the minute we can’t meet for dinner in West Hartford, or Litchfield, or Woodbury, that they’ll write me off, like Jean. Without easy access, will they still think I’m worth the effort?
Walt doesn’t want to tell people that we’ve sold the house, as if we can keep that tid-bit quiet. He says its because he needs to process the change—the man hates change. But I think we share the same fear, that we’re going to disappear from the lives of people we hold dear, that we’ll be forgotten a little too easily. And what would that mean?