Wednesday, November 01, 2006


One of my favorite bumper stickers reads: "Life is not a dress rehearsal." In that case, we are smack dab in the middle of an extraordinary play in progress. I know the plot outline, but the actors always are prone to improvisation and there's no telling how the play will end.

In case you came in late to the show, the previous act related the drama of selling a Queen Anne Victorian in Maine. By the end of the act, the house was indeed sold, and the curtain came down as one family tenderly said goodbye and another family took their place. Compelling drama has always made effective use of entrances and exits.

We are now officially homeless - that is, we have no address. Our Victorian changed hands yesterday, and so I told our daughter Rachel, with whom we live now until our new house is ready, that we are completely dependent on her and her husband for sustenance, shelter, and showers.

As hard as it is for me to believe, some people actually never get attached to their houses. They can stay one month or ten years - and they never feel sad about leaving. My supervisor is like that. When she left her house of twenty years or so, I considered taking a beautiful photo of her house and having it framed for her. I had the foresight to quiz her as to her emotions, and boy, was I glad. I learned she couldn't care less about leaving her home, and I had to find a more suitable gift.

I, on the other hand, have plenty of pictures of our lovely Victorian. I took pictures from the first time I saw it. In the twelve ensuing years, I have taken many, many more. I've been blogging for almost two years about it, since it is an integral part of our attempt to downsize and simplify.

Rachel and Matt tried to remind me that it wasn't the house so much as it was the memories that I didn't want to lose. In a way, that is true, but the hard part is that the house has interwoven itself with our memories in such a way that it would be as difficult to separate them as it would be to separate the threads in a blanket. The house will live in our collective memory with plenty of photographs to refresh that memory, for the years will pass and the memory will fade of what color the trim was, or what the pattern in the stairway runner looked like. The important things will always be carried in our hearts.

I can't complain. The family who bought our house fell in love with it, too, so they will take good care of it and change things about it to suit them. That's as it should be. For a couple of months, that family shared the stage with us in a scene, then left to continue their own play. Meanwhile, the curtain drops and we are preparing for the next act. It promises to contain all the excitement, laughter, and - yes - melancholy that are always the staple ingredients for this play we call life. Don't even think of getting up and leaving the theater; I hear the next act will be a doozy.

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