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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Ghosts of Childhood Gone


Like I ever wore toenail polish to clean.

 I worked like a freaking dog to get all the junk out of the girl's room today. It was especially difficult since I sat in that finally mostly empty, echoing room (mostly—except for the bones of the bunk beds lying stacked against the wall and the school desk that Lon will still use in there when it's his den. Mostly empty) and mourned the tearing out of chunks of my family history. I feel like gaping crevasses have opened in my heart—voids I didn't realize would matter as much. As each person left, because there was still someone else in the room, it didn't sink in as deeply, or ran under the surface like glacier water. But now, sitting here with the vacuum and the dog, I can't keep the emptiness away.
I stare at the nail holes in the walls, remembering bulletin boards full of dance tickets, date souvenirs, goals, pictures of where they wanted to be married, and masquerade masks. Dust fuzzes the wall where the bookcase once sat, full of books anywhere from Good Night Little Monster to Twilight, and vases full of dead bouquets. A spider web waves in the breeze coming from the (low functioning) cooler that would have elicited screams if they'd been there.
That room echoes with violin and cello music and the voices of daughters talking and reading and fighting over whose shoes they really were. It seems like yesterday we were making doll furniture out of found trash, (I found a bag of those furnitures and remembered how hard we worked to make cool things) and they were avoiding playing with or wearing the things I'd given them and writing interesting little hate booklets or painting their toenails (and pictures) while listening to music.
Each little piece of flotsam reminds me in some way of something they did in there, mostly unremarked at the time. Notes about boys, things scrawled on the under side of the bunk bed, loads of glow bracelets they probably used to try and read by, stickers on everything, clothes I'd never seen before or not for a long time. I wonder at the secrets that room holds but can't share. I just sit there and weep as the ghosts slip away into a misty past along with Grandma's doll house full of sunglasses and old jewelry. The house echoes, now, not with laughter and yelling, but with silent memories.
And the worst part is, I think I'm the only one who cares. And it's too late. That life is gone forever. No one is going to come back and tell me they actually want this crap sitting in my living room. They are in the business of shucking it off like moldy corn silk.
But I? I look at each piece of flotsam and make a choice. Will I actually use that? If not, can I call them back for it? Can it bless some other little girl's life (maybe their own)? Should I relegate it to a funeral in the trash? It seems they made these decisions long ago. But I wonder if these shuckings were informed by care and love or by a need to move on and separate? By being born in a different era than mine? 
I actually played with many of those dolls, rather than watching horror movies about them and then relegating them to oblivion because of their “creepy eyes.” I used the cradle with my name painted lovingly on it by my mom when I was three. I think my father built it. I wonder if any of my girls will even want it. Like me, the cradle has little to zero value to them, having been replaced by a cell phone or a computer.
Kids these days have their phones to play on. They actually need little else, according to them. I find that infinitely sad. They don't value the things we learned growing up, as we played with our old fashioned toys. It's a new, slick world, where they grow up way too fast, jammed into another person's set of parameters. They don't need to train their mind's eye to see anything. Someone has already shown them everything through other eyes.
So. Soon there'll be a garage sale. It'll be when the monsoon rains have cleared the air of fire smoke and brimstone. Then some Mexican man will swing by in his truck and haggle his way into taking much of it for ten bucks. Maybe some little Mexican girl will see what my girls have lost sight of.
And I? I'm left with a bored doggy and the regret of chances lost, roads not taken, opportunities fled down the corridors of time. Is the damage irrevocable? How do I live this next annal in my book of life so the pages are less stained with tears of lost years? Who am I, now, without them?
How I probably should clean this place.

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