The Ugly Dishes

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Today is very likely the last day I will ever spend in my parents’ house. Months after my father’s death, the apartment is in contract and I’m getting it ready for the buyer to take it over. I’m at their dining table right now, the same table around which we ate so many meals, preparing to say goodbye to all the things of my childhood.  Preparing to let my parents truly go.

I find it’s the little things that get me right in the heart. The dated blue light fixture that hung in my brother’s childhood bedroom. My mother’s battered old food mill, with which we made so many batches of Thanksgiving applesauce. The seventies-style coffee cups rubbed raw from decades of spoons stirring in sweetener. Even the utterly atrocious paintings that have hung over the living room sofa since I can remember.

I’ll be taking these things with me. They will uglify my own home now. They’ll look at odds with everything I own. One day perhaps I’ll be ready to part with them. But right now they’re the last pieces of the people who raised me, the last tangible link with the things they touched and imbued with meaning.

So much is changing. My time in Santa Fe may be coming to an end soon. I’ll be finishing my new novel before long. Leaving some friends behind, reconnecting with others. I’m not the sort of person to find change exciting. I dread it. I fear it. But here it is, and I hope I’m up to the challenge. Because like it or not, life goes on. And so, perchance, will I.

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Why I haven’t written

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Why haven’t I written? The short answer is, my father died a few weeks ago. So I haven’t written any blog entries, twitticisms, or posted on my Facebook page.

I also haven’t worked on Book Two.

I haven’t written, I haven’t written, I haven’t written. I have had no desire to write. I have had no desire to do anything but eat cheese and watch bad television.

So, 5 pounds heavier and no lighter of heart, I sit here three and a half weeks after my father’s last breath, wondering who the hell I am and what the hell I want in the future. In a few months’ time I must decide whether to stick it out in Santa Fe another year, or move back to New York City, or find some other thing to do with my life and some other place to do it in.  In three months’ time I ought to be delivering a finished book to my publisher.

Shit, where’s that cheese?

I still feel overwhelmed, and underwhelmed, anything but whelm-whelmed. My relationship with my father was challenging, but now that he’s not here I feel so unmoored, yet so much more expected to be an adult, like a title magically conferred without any sort of education or preparation.

I fret that the history of our family, its identity, is in danger of vanishing, and my brother and I are its only witnesses, only carriers. Is it worth carrying? Ought it all to be forgotten? Does it make me a different person to no longer have this father, that mother?

What I know is that my heart is low, my interest in llamas and alpacas and charming little fictitious New Mexico towns is nil, and yet I have to get back to the business of life, preferably before I cause an international cheese shortage. I wish it were easy. I wish I could slide into the next phase of my life. But right now that’s not the case.

So bear with me. Happier updates to come.

PS – One bright spot: I can report that Dad’s two cats are settling happily into their new home in Seattle with a loving forever-guardian who will look after them well.