Tonight is my last night in my old house.
I lived in five different houses by the time I turned 15 and seven more places before I was 27. None of that moving around bothered me a bit, but I’m having a hard night tonight.
Anna moved in here when she was a year old. We lived here when Carlo was born. I burnt out and almost went off the rails while living here. I pursued and ultimately achieved my bliss here as well. My life’s lowest depths and highest highs occurred here, in a couple of cases within months of one another.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been here to begin with.
Building this house was a big compromise and probably a big mistake. We did it out of panic and, had we taken a few deep breaths first, we probably would’ve thought better of it. But we did it anyway. It’s possible that this place and where it is contributed to everything skidding off the road three years ago. Maybe it had nothing to do with it. I don’t know. Some days I look at it as the place where my babies grew up to become the wonderful kids they are now. Sometimes I look at it and think how I’ve spent a decade making mistakes.
The place we’re moving is smaller. To accommodate I got a storage unit. This has made things easier for Anna and Carlo. I’m not making them throw too many things out. If they come across something they don’t want to take to the new house, they just throw it in a box marked “storage” and that’s that. It’s just up the road so it’s not really gone. I suspect they’ll never think about or see most of what is going to storage, even if they’re glad that they don’t have to truly get rid of anything. At some point I’ll purge all of that stuff for good, but in the meantime, they don’t have to part with things that mattered to them so it doesn’t feel like too big a change.
But I can’t do that. This house is so full of ghosts now that living here has become too hard. Holding on to things and simply putting them in storage is a half measure that won’t serve me well. I have thrown away so many of the artifacts of my life. It has been at turns pleasant, sad, cathartic and unbearable. Every box evokes a memory, and given how my life has gone in the past few years, memories are always problematic for me. Throwing things out is liberating, but every trash bag contains a hard, sad choice.
I’ve put my head down and done it anyway. The dump is full of the things that brought me pain and all that remains are the tokens and totems of the happy times in my life. The things that don’t carry such emotional weight. In the morning the movers come to take them to the new house.
I hope the ghosts don’t follow me there. I hope this move represents a purge in every sense of the word.
This chart from the Census Bureau seems off. It’s cool through Generation X — I’ve always seen that mid-60s through 1980 bracket to describe my fellow difficult Gen-Xers and me — but it seems to break down after that:
I always assumed there was a Gen-Y right after us until, I dunno, 1990 or something. Then the Millennials come in. Here they’re just globbed together. Which is something of a problem in that it puts both my girlfriend (1980) and my daughter (2003) in the same generational group. I may be a creepy old dude with a younger girlfriend, but I’m not that creepy.
Also, my son’s generation (2005) is the “Homeland Generation?” That sounds practically Nazi. Or certainly Orwellian. And my father’s generation is the “Silent Generation.” Have you MET my father? He’s a lot of things, but silent is not one of them.
Oh well, this is dumb. If you need me I’ll be off wearing flannel, lamenting the fact that my baby-bust friends and I have to support our goddamn Baby Boomer parents and thinking about how life would’ve been much better if I had just married Winona Ryder.
Hi Craig,I do like your columns. Stunned by the title of this column - mentioning Don Mattingly being fired. People I love and I know many others who lost their jobs due to the economy - so to entitle a column like this - I don’t want to see ANYONE lose their jobs LET ALONE mention it. I wonder how Don Mattingly would feel if he saw that title to this article. Even IF a manager is lousy and even IF I don’t like a baseball player I never WISH or think they should be fired.Gosh how would you feel that that was written about you.Take care,Betty
UPDATE: I did not respond to Betty, but she did write back again just now. First she linked a story from another website which said that Don Mattingly is unlikely to be fired. Then she said:
This is a professional way to write - link above said Don Mattingly’s job is SAFE!!! and Ned Colleti’s job on hot seat - NOT - with the title: “So If the Dodgers win tonight, Don Mattingly will be fired”. How would YOU feel if someone wrote that YOU would be fired. It is NOT professional NOR kind to write that someone will be fired. That is HIS JOB!! his livliehood. Professionals like Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, the NY sports colmnists do not write this way. I do not trust fly by night websites like Bleacher, or fansided - I stick with PROFESSIONALS like the above. They write with substances and facts.
Can’t please everyone I guess.
I would like to tell you the story of the praying mantis which has, as of late, made a home on the screen door to my patio.
He appeared there, oh, a week ago. Seemingly caught between the glass and the screen. I am not enamored of bugs, so I made the decision that I would not open the door and would, instead, allow him to die between it and the screen. It was a harsh but fair sentence.
But then something happened!
He began to catch little bugs and eat them. At first I thought they came through a little hole in the screen just above him. But then I realized, no, the praying mantis could actually fit himself out of the little crack between the screen and the door. He was not trapped! He had simply decided to live there, between my door and screen. And to eat every bug that dared come his way.
For the past week, I have walked by to look at him every couple of hours. Sometimes he is in the middle of sucking out the insides of a fly caught between his little hook-like appendages. Most of the time he’s just chilling. As I work at home and my kids are in school all day, I am a sad and lonely man, so I have taken to talking to him.
"Hey dude," I might say. "You’re pretty gross, but thanks for eating those bugs."
He never responds.
Yesterday, something terrifying happened.
As I was (carefully!) walking out of the patio door in order to grill some steaks for dinner, I noticed another large bug was attached to him.
A FEMALE PRAYING MANTIS.
They were locked in their ancient praying mantis dance. My new friend doing what nature implored him to do, even if it meant his grisly end. I was momentarily disturbed, but eventually steeled myself and told myself that “such is the way of the world.” I may have hummed the chorus to “The Circle of Life” as well. Not that this really made me feel better.
Moments ago, I walked by the screen door and looked up to where my new friend had made his home for such a brief but happy time. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:
I am not a religious man, but for a while I thanked God Almighty for sparing him. Then I sought a higher power — Wikipedia — and realized that only a few species of mantis actually practice sex cannibalism. The fellow who (still!) lives on my screen door is one of the lucky ones who gets to mate and live to tell the tale. Though I’m sure that, like most males, he exaggerates.
I’m moving in just over two weeks. I hope he can hold on that long. It’s going to get cold this weekend so I’m not sure if he will. And now that I think about it, the guy buying my house asked me to replace the screen door because it’s got a shitload of holes in it. I fear my friend is going to die pretty soon one way or the other.
Before he does, though, I probably need to give him a name. Any ideas?