Friday, August 3, 2007


I glance around as I move through the rooms of this big house. There is really very little that I feel I should take with me. Most can be sold, or given away or stashed in my great grandmother's basement if nothing else.

I believe I will take the bookshelf — the one my great grandfather made, the cat tea serving set of my great grandmother's, most of the books, and the music — you know the real comfort items.

I will definitely take the heavy coffee table of my grandfather's. I always hit my head on its top when I'd visit and lay beneath it. That table has spent the last twelve years in my home, with my hauling it from house to house. I still bang into it all the time, only now it's my shins instead of my head.

There's a box of pictures, a box of notebooks and the trunk.

When I met him, my husband (the first one) lived very simply. He had a guitar and an old Army trunk of "stuff" — clothes, books, candles, shoes, music, and candy, whatever.

When he died, I fit what I could of his into the trunk, whatever felt most like his "stuff" — you know, clothes, books, candles, music, and candy, whatever.

I had already packed for the boy, and myself but left most of it behind in soggy, wet piles. I had no interest in picking through what remained of the life we shared.

We leave with no more than what we bring when we come.

I loaded up the car, locked the trailer door and left. I called a group of his friends and asked them to go take what they wanted of the rest. No I didn't care what they did with it. I just never wanted to step back into that house again. As far as I was concerned, the whole thing could burn, and I'd just as soon it did.

I rode through the trailer park once or twice after that. My mind's eye always saw the flashing lights as my car rounded the curved incline. A couple years later I rode through again, horrified to see that flames had caused the metal sides to melt and drip from the frame, exposing the bedroom to the world. There was nothing left of the rest but a shell.

For the first time since the day I left, I parked in the driveway and headed toward the door, which stood wide open, revealing the charred interior of the living room. The narrow porch and tiny front lot was littered with stuff that had been thrown out by firefighters. It looked as though someone's family had left with much less than what they had when they came.

The neighbor's kid said it had burned a few months before — that the furnace had exploded.

"Naw, won't nobody there to get hurt," he responded to my curiosity. "But a man did die there once....a couple years ago....mama said he was real young...had a wife and baby too...don't nobody know what happened to them...."

"Yeah, I know, I know, you stay out of trouble," I rattled overtop of his childlike, second-hand version of the story. I quickly got to my car and backed out of the driveway, leaving that place one final time. I made my way back down and around the hill, back to the left, over the bridge and took a right on the main road. I finally stopped when I reached the end of it, lit a cigarette and turned on the radio. Jim Morrison's voice came alive in the speakers, "C'mon baby light my fire..."

I took a drag, turned the radio up and continued on my way, laughing hysterically at the sheer simplicity of it all.


  1. I am just...awed by your blog. When I read it, I am standing right next to you, running my hands over that big table and seeing how car lights hit exactly in that place.

    How lovely your talent is.

  2. Seriously, your story is like it would be if a screenwriter had made it up.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

  3. And The Promise is such a gorgeous song.....

  4. gee, your girls really know how to make a girl have no idea how much your encouragement means, thank you!

  5. Wow! What an excellent piece of writing. I really felt this story Alice. Nice work!