I've lived in this house for four years now. It's little and cute and had a yard (my first since I was a kid) and I loved it. I moved in here with my ex-husband and actually discussed buying it. I thought it was mine, you know? That my weird-ass life was finally going to have some stability. It's not that I like anything normal or the idea of settling down in any way, believe me, but one thing grounding me would allow me to go off and act like a crazy person in every other area of my life. Then came the tidal wave.
I've chronicled the divorce in an earlier post, and I have no wish to revisit that. It was ultimately a very, very, very good thing, and life changing in brilliant and magical ways, but I'll tell you, the agonizing process of working my way through it is frakking splattered all over these walls like blood stains. I remember wandering from room to room for hours, trying to find one single inch of this place that didn't remind me of what I'd lost. I threw things out that reminded me of him and us. I moved the furniture. My parents came out and stayed with me for weeks while I tried to forget the visual of him moving his shit out of the house, incidentally while I was on the phone collaborating about my very first comic book and trying not to throw up from the shock. I worked so hard on getting over everything in a healthy way (and I was phenomenally brutal with myself) that I practically repainted these walls with a stronger version of myself.
My former roomie Jaime's earlier and similar experience with the same thing helped. So did having someone else in here to talk to. When she finally moved out (and into the home of her sweetie, which is wonderful), I was left alone to "repaint." Once again, I was starting to feel normal. Then another explosion. I lost my job and my appendix blew up and I almost died on my den floor.
Why yes, you are right. I should start carrying around four leaf clovers, nail horseshoes to my wall, stop stepping under ladders, breaking mirrors etc. I should never say the name of the Scottish play and stop being a vegetarian for New Year's Day so I can eat all the good luck corned beef I can hold.
Many of you read about the appendix thing in my memorial to Fionnie, but here it is in a nutshell. I thought I had food poisoning for 12 hours, during which I watched Downton Abbey, because what else do sick people do? Matthew and Lady Mary soothed me enough to finally sleep, after which I tried to eat a single bite of pizza. Then KABLAM! (everything that happens in my life should have a comic book sound effect), it burst. It took me 45 minutes to crawl to my phone to call 911. I kept passing out and my pup kept waking me up. I had my head on the floor boards, thinking that the wood pattern was the last thing I was going to see in the world. I screamed into them over and over until someone finally came to get me. Don't laugh at the overly artsy language here, because I swear to you, I said this to myself as I was crawling, but I felt like I was laying down a carpet of agony (and possibly fluids of some sort) as I slid across the floor. Okay, go ahead and laugh, but it's true, and I think about it every single time I walk past that spot.
I lost my pet python Obie in this house. I lost my lovely little tabby cat Bee. I lost my funny little rat Millie. And as many of you know, I lost my best friend Fionnie here, which I wrote about right before it happened. I got the news weeks before, that he was sick and not going to make it, but he seemed to be doing okay. Then the night before WonderCon, I climbed into bed, he hopped up and fell asleep, and then woke up screaming. I knew it was time. I took him in and made the terrible but ultimately easy decision to end his pain. Coming back to this place that night was awful. Dragging each foot up the 32 stairs to my place, knowing I'd never see his sweet face at my door again ... I felt like I was wearing lead boots. My wonderful boyfriend Jeff made the con so easy for me and kept me laughing the whole time, but I knew it was going to hurt like hell when I got home. (Honestly, I wouldn't have gotten through this without him, and I'll never be able to thank him enough for his sweetness through the entire thing.)
Not a day goes by when I don't look up and expect to see Fionnie, or leave a piece of food on my plate, only to find myself starting to call him over for it. He's in these walls, too, and that makes me tear up every single time I think about it. As Jeff so wisely told me, there are ghosts in this place, and I finally gathered the courage to move. I'm thrilled that I made the decision. I've been forcing myself to throw out worn out old memories and dusty moments as I pack, and it's been cathartic in the extreme. But yesterday I kind of lost it again as I looked at my bare walls and watched that woman walk up my stairs into the site of events in my life, ready to take it over.
It hit me then that there were lovely things that happened here, too. I saw Jeff for the first time at the bottom of those stairs. There have been life changing moments here recently. I've sat on this couch in this room as I got my show with Stan Lee, published my comic, booked my pinup and calendar shoots and my appearances on Attack of the Show, got my new job, and so many, many other things. Hell, this was the site of my being stronger than I've even been in my life as I dragged myself out of the abyss I felt like I was falling into. I'm really proud of that. I can't believe I'm saying this, but there are things about this place I'm going to miss. Okay, not the stairs though. They make my butt hurt. A lot.
So here is the thing that hit me. (Remember that thing? From about a thousand words ago? I did promise you a thing.) As I carried yet another box of stuff down those stairs (full of items from my honeymoon, Fionnie's old and mungy dog toys and other assorted and painful crap), I remembered something I told a friend when I decided to give up doing makeup and acting and start a new life as a reporter in a new city where I knew no one. You get to re-work your life any time you want.
You can change jobs, add and subtract people from your life, decide what memories you're going to keep and which ones you're going to ... well, not discard, because they're always there, but remove reminders of. And they're all coming with you if you want them to. You can also choose to leave them behind. Like going off to college or moving to a new city or starting a new relationship or career, you get to reinvent yourself and your life. Fionnie is no less with me at the new place than anywhere else, but now I won't have to see the last spot he slept in every day. I can throw out the things I don't want and live without constant reminders. Heck, I can get a new couch. All the things that happened on this one are still there, but now I don't have to look at the claw marks he made or the crumbs that are embedded in the cushions. Also, no more stairs.
It's going to be nice to make new memories.