01 July 2008

Disconnected

Today my parents are moving to a sweet waterfront condo that we will reap the benefits of for many years to come. Of course, they're in the downsizing phase which means they sold the house where I grew up. Such an event would normally send me into a downward spiral of excessive sentimentality, but it hasn't. I am (sort of) a reformed nostalgiaholic. I don't remember exactly when I had my epiphany and realized that all my whitewashed memories only got me into trouble, but since then I've been all about moving forward, and when looking back, doing so without becoming consumed by emotion. Still, with this life event, I anticipated some sadness. We went over to the house to help move some boxes and do some final purging of personal relics that had been collecting dust in the attic since I moved out 16 years ago. I walked through the empty, echoey rooms with 34 years stuffed into cardboard boxes. I looked at the sparse walls with tiny holes where pictures once hung, all too aware that Lois wasn't about to rush in with a can of spackle. I waited for the feeling to wash over me, and it wasn't nearly as bad as expected. I almost felt disconnected.

I think there are several reasons for this. First, the new owners are my dear friends JAL and Mike. I know they'll take amazing care of the place and we'll have many new memories there. Second, the house had gone through so many incarnations through the years. Every time you'd leave for awhile and return, the inside of the house was different -- some of the rooms rendered unrecognizable due to my mother's admitted addiction to furniture rearranging. Sometimes the dining room was the living room and vice versa. Sometimes the walls were different colors. Sometimes it took 15 minutes to find the relocated boxes of cereal. When I left for college, I knew my U2 and Cult posters were being peeled off the walls before I hit the Mass Pike and being replaced by watercolors and guest soaps. So, knowing the place was going to change again was really no biggie -- and I still get to visit. Nostalgia nipped in the bud.

But then I was blindsided. We headed over to the new condo where Caroline and Paul had set up a picnic blanket on the floor. We had some D'Parma's salads, enjoying the ocean air. We talked about how nice it'll be to have dinners here, how the kids will love the pool, etc. Then, Lois said: "Oh, we have a new phone number." I pulled my cell out to program it in and saw the old phone number there: 617-569-5438. It's the phone number I'd had all my life, the numbers that dialed home even when I no longer lived there. I was suddenly paralyzed by sentimentality and couldn't bring myself to delete it. It took awhile, but I finally did it. It was the old struggle, overcoming a connection, this time to a now disconnected phone number. 617-569-5438.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

KJ,

Great post. There's nothing wrong with excessive sentimentality in the right moment. It makes a better writer. Rock on! K.R.

KJ said...

Thanks, man. In it's right place, yes. Otherwise, it's just corrosive.

bg said...

KJ - I'm curious to see how the Judge and Lois will adapt to a home that doesn't have the blue line quake-shaking their world every 10 minutes.

katie o. said...

Wow! Love those last few sentences. Such good writing...

KJ said...

BG--Not to mention the endless cruising of 747s past the bay window in the kitchen. The new place is very, very quiet.

Katie 0: Huge compliment coming from you. See you at the beach tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

I am sad in a good way. It sparked immediate memories of Judge Paul and his comments of why we couldn’t find another bar to close, singing the B52’s Roam in the Callahan tunnel. Oh and Muffin’s many hair trimmings. I think Lois had the shears out as much as she rearranged the furniture.

That house was really my launching pad to my love for the city, even though I still don’t like the T. I also remember lots of fun times with Paul. He is certainly one of a kind.

Well, life does go on, but the memories remain the same. Thank god!!!! Cheers to the full life the M’s lived in Eastie and an even bigger cheers to the next chapter which no doubt will be just as happy.

Now I will get in my family vehicle and “Roam” through the streets of the SS.

KC

Ps. I also think that house has the biggest bathroom in the entire city. I was always amazed by that.

jal said...

Oh Kate - I can understand your post. My parents have been threatening to move for years and I'm very attached to that house even though I haven't lived there for almost 20 years. We're working hard to make it our own but the good spirits and good times will most definitely continue at 155.

FYI: William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper", IPA: /ˈkuːpɚ/) (November 26, 1731 – April 25, 1800) [1] was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. He was a nephew of the poet Judith Madan.

He suffered from periods of severe depression, and although he found refuge in a fervent evangelical Christianity, the inspiration behind his much-loved hymns, he often experienced doubt and feared that he was doomed to eternal damnation. His religious sentiment and association with John Newton (who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace") led to much of the poetry for which he is best remembered.

jal said...

Oh Kate - I can understand your post. My parents have been threatening to move for years and I'm very attached to that house even though I haven't lived there for almost 20 years. We're working hard to make it our own but the good spirits and good times will most definitely continue at 155.

FYI: William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper", IPA: /ˈkuːpɚ/) (November 26, 1731 – April 25, 1800) [1] was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. He was a nephew of the poet Judith Madan.

He suffered from periods of severe depression, and although he found refuge in a fervent evangelical Christianity, the inspiration behind his much-loved hymns, he often experienced doubt and feared that he was doomed to eternal damnation. His religious sentiment and association with John Newton (who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace") led to much of the poetry for which he is best remembered.