"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Jun 10, 2013

Can't Go Home Again



I really don’t know what to say, especially with the egg covering my face.  Some blogger I turned out to be.  At the very least, I could have posted that I arrived in New Jersey, safe and sound, which I did.  And would you believe that the only real snaffoo I had in all that driving was in Pennsylvania.  One minute I’m driving down a nice, country road (because I couldn’t find the Interstate), passing picturesque Universities like Villanova and Bryn Mawr (during Friday lunchtime pedestrian traffic).  Next thing I’m heading smack into Philly, hoping my sense of direction towards home works like the salmon.

My first indication that I was in ‘Jersey was when I stopped for gas.  Didn’t have to pump it myself; just like back home in Oregon.  What a treat.  The second thing was the numerous diners I spotted, even if they call them other things nowadays.

As kids we’d stop at the Diner to share a plate of fries and flip through the tabletop jukebox to check out the tunes.  Gee, do they even have those anymore?  Later, after a movie date or to sober up before heading home to toe-tapping Parents, we’d head for the Diner for coffee and pie.  After church, the family would stop for chicken salad sandwiches.  Ah, the good old days.
So needless to say, after more than 4,000 miles of driving, I arrived home, and things have been busy ever since.  I mentioned way-back-then that the main reason I was heading East was to help care for ailing Mom.

I wish I could say this story has a happy ending, but at the moment it doesn’t.  Mom is worse than I thought; I shouldn’t have joked about hoping she remembered me, but after four weeks, at least I don’t have to remind her which daughter I am.  Very often.

It’s heartbreaking.  And so now I’m in the midst of clearing out her home, in addition to sorting my own life’s worth of (mostly worthless) junk, some of which has been stored since the 70’s.  It’s overwhelming at times, but as they say,

“How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

Some of it’s easy to get rid of.  I’ve decided that I no longer want to be reminded, over and over, of all my failed relationships.  If I look at an item (no matter how beautiful) and it reminds me of an unpleasant memory, it's toast.
However, I can’t just throw good things away, so my choices are to gift, re-gift, put out in the town-wide yard sale this coming Saturday, or try to sell online (ugh).  My favorite thing is putting stuff out on the sidewalk with a FREE STUFF sign.  People are thrilled with the treasures they find in our trash, but that’s the point, no?  As I said to Mom, who wanted to keep a scrap of fabric to make into a pillow,

“Who’s gonna sew it?”  Me, she said.  No, I said.  Worried I’d just throw it in the trash heap, I explained that I have my own scraps of fabric I’ll put out in the sale, and some other woman who sews will be thrilled with her score.

I didn’t quite use those word, but you get the gist, and more importantly, so did she.

Yesterday, I needed to get out of the house to feel like a real person again, so I headed for my favorite Pizzeria for a couple of slices and a soda; their five buck special.  It was perfect; burned the roof of my mouth just like I remembered.   As I munched, I watched ‘Jersey boys strut by in their muscle shirts, slicked back hair and tattoos.  I just know they’d holler, “Hey, Ange,” if they knew my name.

Maybe you CAN go home again.

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