Monday, May 05, 2008

childhood home

I found this 1908 description of my childhood home on the New York Public Library online archives.

Here’s what I picture:

  • Two padlocked closets full of almost junk (sorry, Mom, I exaggerate with the word “junk”), the pots and pans and plates and linens my mother kept aside for her stays in the New York City apartment. Much of it from the bargain store on 109th and Broadway. Inexpensive and functional, not meant to last a lifetime.
  • A few boxes of her novels, which I must and want to keep.
  • Well-worn furniture to go to the Salvation Army or to Big Trash day (on Fridays – if memory serves).
I said to my mom, “I’m tired of makeshift.” She did makeshift well – putting those old milk crates and coffee tins to almost elegant use. But it bugged me when I was young – I went to a private school where some peers who had lots of money (yet denied being “rich”) had nothing makeshift. I also said it as I got older – but then it was less a criticism, more of a desire for the streamlined, the fresh, the solid.

I have four total days allotted to clearing out my childhood home at 404 West 116th Street. I think that is reasonable. But I also know it will be tough in many ways: I grew up there; my mother’s habits and life have left imprints there; and it will be my longest time away from my 4-year-old Iz. (I am taking 10-month-old Az with me – he is still breastfeeding, and I’ll need some family company – though he can’t help with any heavy lifting, he will be a comfort.)
I want someone to take over, plan for me, make decisions. I feel almost incapable – and alone. Yet I don’t want to have to ask for help – organize that help. So I go on feeling lonely in the midst.

I don't mean this as a total "pity party" post! But I am dreading the coming months – May, clearing the NYC apartment; June and July, the chaos of juggling work and a trip to Maine; August, to Sydney to clear my mom’s other apartment (which has all the important stuff – not “almost junk”). Maybe in September I will emerge from the fog. Wish me luck!

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