Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Moving and exile


I  am sitting in a room that’s in the process of being dismantled, bit by bit, box by box.  Where does moving fit on the scale of life’s most stressful events?  Somewhere up there, after death and divorce.  My many moves are bookended by long periods spent in the same place.  17 years in the farmhouse in Varysburg, the small town where I grew up, and then 15 years in the atico flat in Barcelona with its terraces and views of the sea as a distant blue line and Montjuic, the city’s hill off the port. 
Since my American adventure, I’ve lived in three places- my sister’s home in Atlanta, a sublet in Buffalo, and my present apartment where I’ve been for, hard to believe but four years now.  Four years of living alone.  Surprisingly except for one brief stint here when I was in college, I have never lived alone.  Now that I’ve done it, it seems easy.  Solitude doesn’t weigh but there is that occasional need to find a witness for the daily details of life. 
So now, encumbered by a lot more stuff, I’m preparing for move 4.  I left Barcelona after twenty years with three suitcases and a few boxes of my papers which I sent.  How is it possible that I have amassed more stuff in four years here than in all that time abroad? 
My first trip away from home to Paris for my junior year abroad only required one suitcase and a small carry on.  With every subsequent voyage I’ve been weighted down with more stuff.  I have my books (heavy, aren’t they?), DVD’s, papers (way too many), CD’s, and more clothes than I could ever wear.  What do I really need?  Comfort is a way of life in America and every object is designed for that finality.  How much can I shed?  As I look around the chaos that is now my pre-move life, I’m going to find that out.

                                                                        “You can’t go home again.”  Thomas Wolfe   

Cross the yard
to open the gate,
my mother stands
at the door.
Inside, the grey carpet
with faded roses,
consumes my breath.
The mismatched couches
 are covered over again,
a paint by numbers seascape
hangs on the wall.

I reclaim these rooms,
the medicine stained floor,
my father metes out drops
so he can breathe.
His voice, the backdrop
to my dreams,
as he reads aloud to my mother,
their secret night life.

Stripped naked
I try again to enter,
13 steps to my bedroom,
Petal pink, a girl long buried,
still wants the Barbie dress up world.

My mother’s closet holds two suits
from her past life,
strappy heels, red leather,
thick ankle straps,
I touch and identify,

She never wanted to be here,
in this farmhouse in America.

Yet she greets me,
we share for a moment
this white house,
this undersurface dream space.

1 comment:

  1. I moved more than 15 times in my life. So I can say I am more nomad than a sedentary person. Also to carry the paintings with me all the time is not so easy. But after those experiences you feel two things: Fisrt at all you are a citizen of the World and second one moving again is a way of learning new experiences.