bas relief of home

I find it impossible to title posts before I’ve written them (titling poems is even harder– thinking up lines that might serve for titling is a doomed venture, viable poems seldom proceeding, yielding virtual drawers full of unused lines too singular to incorporate organically). typically I stumble over possible title words like gravel while drafting, tumbling handfuls to good-feeling combinations in the process of editing.

I’ve been thinking lately about the many possible places, instants, and details that define “home,” having just visited one of them– and having even more recently returned to another. homes that were and homes that are. I return to snow and blackened streets, brown-black trees, things standing out in the cold as outlines of themselves, palimpsest of footprints ringing the park.

I sit beside the front window of my third floor apartment and reacquaint myself after days away with the sensory details of daily life in these parts– pedestrian traffic, street traffic, train bell clanging. suburbia was and is another world, both different from and the same as it once was: new shiny stores, parking lots, municipal library; eternal mothers with coiffed greying hair, christmas-themed sweaters of primary colors, ankle length fur coats tip-tapping across the street in the village; tailgating drivers, deserted streetscapes dotted with for sale or lease signs, christmas light festooned front lawns and orderly facades.

my mother in perpetual powder blue robe and quilted slippers; my mother seeking me out around midnight with a flashlight through the dark back hallway to where I lie in bed after tiptoeing in from visiting with my sister; my mother laughing off losing her train of thought, apologizing for eating slowly, backseat driving turn by turn by turn, my mother’s running commentary; my mother gone to bed early, sleeping late, talking from the other room; my mother’s saved gift boxes and cereal boxes, magazines and clothing, my mother’s plenty drifting spare rooms and closets, sediment of intention burying itself– my mother, my self.

my father sitting reading enormous tomes in his barrel-backed library chair, my father typing away at the computer in my old bedroom for hours, finishing the times sunday crossword puzzle at the breakfast table in minutes; my father cooking farm-delivered bacon for breakfast, four slices each, hunks of meat roasted to succulence, damned roast beef hash; my dad scowling and false-laughing and real(I think) laughing, telling tales at the dinner table; my father looking down, taking his time to answer, not hearing, my father enduring.

last night I dreamed of a prep school reunion set at huron mountain– convergence of anxieties and identities and situational drama. the details are sketchy at best, eroded to the vaguest feeling.

weekend statistics

loaves of oatmeal-heavy-on-the-molasses bread baked: 3
pots of tuscan white bean and swiss chard soup made with thanksgiving turkey stock: 1
big screen movies watched (2012– woo! upheavals!): 1
good long walks with chris & floyd: 1
naps: 2
cups of hot cocoa: 2
loads of laundry put away: 4
hours of rolly polly puppy play time: infinite

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Sunday, 6/28, 6:30 a.m.: the cell phone rings as I’m driving in my car behind Chris in his car as we search for parking spaces for the last time in this wretched neighborhood.

We’ve succeeded in planting the U-Haul truck, at least, smack dab in front of the building, after much angst involving No Parking signs from the alderman’s office, filling them out and putting them up as directed only to have people repeatedly tear down or otherwise simply ignore them. Then, summoning patience, waiting, giving people a chance to do the right thing and move their cars– finally, calling police, who inform us that, as the current time is now later than the start time stated on the signs, they’re unable to assist us. We start phoning in parked cars’ license plates, getting addresses and knocking on owners’ doors– one guy says he’ll be leaving for work at 4 a.m. sharp. Well, okay, fine. So Chris, who’s planning to stay up all night packing anyway, keeps an eye out the window starting at 3:00, goes down and waits by the car starting at 3:45. The guy finally strolls out at 4:30. Chris moves his car into place, and truck parking for 7 a.m. movers arrival is secured. Phew. Now we just need to do something with both of our cars.

“Hello?” I say. At this stage I’m half-hallucinating, exhausted at the tail end of days spent packing boxes and an all too brief three hours of sleep.

“HI! This is DANIEL! from M-M-M-MOVE-TASTIC! How are YOU this fine morning?!”

Laughing, “Hi, Daniel. Ohhh, I’m okay. How are you doing?”

“GREAT! I LOVE STAIRS! If I loved stairs any MORE, I’d be TWINS!!”

At 7 they arrive, three guys, who, true to Daniel’s claim and their glowing yelp reviews, seem indeed to love stairs (we’re moving from 3rd flr walkup to 3rd flr walkup) and RUN back from the truck after each deposit– these guys are athletes, yo.

Unfortunately, the truck’s not big enough for all our stuff, despite the offloading of LOTS over the last several days– by 9 a.m. the truck’s full, and there’s still a bunch left in the apartment. Harumph.

We caravan over to the new place while I feverishly start making calls trying to find a solution: guys from work last minute, something, but it’s a Sunday morning, and nobody’s picking up.

On the other end we wrangle with a narrow alley, briefly consider a move up the front stairs but are quickly discouraged by a suddenly-appearing (Magic Marker still smelly) note from another tenant informing us that “ALL MOVE-INS ON BACK STAIRS”, grumble, deal with it, figure it out, and start unloading up the back– discover that the narrowness of our back deck and screen door opening direction mean that someone has to stand there opening and closing the door as the guys carry stuff in– which totally irks me as a waste of a human being, I try to devise a solution with bungee cords, and Chris immediately disassembles it, which leads to our 237th spat of the morning.

Ah, moving.

A couple of extra guys suddenly show up and start hanging around the truck in the alley with offers of help (there’s an awkward bit once more with another building resident, we surmise the one who wrote the note, who’s hovering and making loud comments about Hispanics).

We briefly consider hiring the new guys for a second round to move the remainder of apartment contents but quickly figure out that ever additional U-Haul hour will run us an extra $50 and say screw it, decide we’ll stick with what we know and hire our same guys to back for the second leg another night.

All week we go to work during the day and then come back to one apartment or the other and work– moving stuff or pulling hardware from walls, painting, cleaning– by Thursday we’re totally out of the old place, my company’s closing early for our annual summer party, and we enter the holiday weekend– Halleluiah.

Bit by bit we unpack boxes, square things away– though there’s still a lot to get settled, we now have a shower curtain up and most of the dishes in accessible cupboards, the bed up off the floor– and a lovely new little back deck area, where we collapse at day’s end with cool beverages and watch fireworks over our neighborhood and speculate about the new neighbors from bits we’ve gleaned glimpsing them in passing in the courtyard or out on their back decks throughout the week– both those who wave across the distance and those who pass without a glance of acknowledgeement.

The L train rumbles by at street level right outside our front windows. during the day the ding-ding-ding of the bells feels like home again and gets hushed at night. we overlook dense treetops, directly across the street from a small park where children play and laugh and there was a free concert on our first night. there’s a little coffee shop and a ballet school downstairs. the river’s about a two block walk away. we’re neither as young as we used to be and are both pretty well exhausted and still recovering. I suspect I’ve given myself Achilles tendonitis. On Friday we made the rounds of shelter dogs, but a puppy may be right for us. We’ll see.

Anyhow, we’re in a good place, together.


things I hate:
my end-of-day commute
hunting for parking
so-called friends who are not
squishy, flavorless american “gummy bears”
narcissists, users, and the self-righteously prideful
relentless political campaigning
irregardless unsensible languagistic usage
anyone meddling with my teeth
being the only person at work in a halloween costume
teutonic network admins
nostalgic regret

things I love:
haribo gold bears (aka the original gummi baren)
birds, especially ones that talk or cause mischief
clanky radiators
strong coffee
that man who makes me laugh & swoon
tights + boots
vintage raincoats
my art table
happenstance adventuring
kneading bread dough
tinkering & pottering
my niece’s cow saying “mow mow”



we worked really hard on our living space this weekend– lots of trips up and down the three flights of stairs (both with the burning legs to prove it), enormous amounts of things gone through and either organized or removed bodily from the premises– still far from "done" but worlds better– space to live and breathe in, walls taking shape, greater efficiencies and arrangements to delight the eye. the process was not without its snags and emotional pitfalls, as we worked to loosen our respective grips on effluvia from past lives– lots of head-butting and occasional stomping on toes (for the most part mine on his)– but this, too, I believe, is a significant part of the catharsis: learning to occupy the process together, to ride those swells and plunges with a minimum of choking. in the course of things we are reminded, time and again, in practice, that we both see and hear one another, a gift which I've never experienced so dynamically and honestly with another human being. when you've got two strong-willed and creative folks living in close proximity, there's bound to be some weather generated– but for the most part the sun shines and things are growing. and cocktail/dinner parties are in the works! yeehaw. 

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