Saturday, September 24, 2016

One Day

An odd twenty-four hours, where I went for my fifteenth cystoscopy and was told there was no trace of cancer this time around. That’s two clean exams in a row. My record is three, after five or so years of dealing with this unpleasantness.

I was also told there is Still Something Going On, though the doctor is not sure what IT is. IT will call for more tests. I was informed of the same thing three months ago and will start doing the lab work next week, or the week after that.

Arielle and I went for a celebratory lunch, and we haggled over who would pay.

On another front, I had my first meeting with the real estate agent who will handle the marketing of my house, so it is official—I am selling my home, and I’m wrestling with a strange mélange of sadness and relief.

After the agent left, I spent an hour or so pacing through my yard. Over the two-and-half decades of living here, I did a lot to alter the topography of this small patch of Virginia soil. I created and stocked a tiny fishpond, made a couple of small hills, and a couple of little hollows. I planted innumerable trees, bushes, vegetables, and flowering and non-flowering things. I pulled up weeds until, about a decade ago, I realized that weeds are green and great ground-cover. I put up fences and took them down again. I saw a tall and slender willow fall after a heavy snow, and I cut down three dead pines that smelled of pitch and needles. I hung a hammock I never used between two elm trees.

I remembered buying a two-foot leafless branch shortly after my father’s death. I wanted to commemorate his life. I stuck the branch into the ground and in time it became a twenty-foot corkscrew willow that now towers over the fishpond. I remembered being attacked by wasps no less than four times, and using an almost strawless broom to challenge a hissing raccoon on my kitchen stoop. I chased away a fox that was threatening my cat.

Inside the house I’ve taken down walls, destroyed and rebuilt bathrooms, and put in closets, Sheetrocked, sanded and painted. I retiled the kitchen, refinished floors and put in new windows. Some work was necessity; other was a labor of love. I built a room out back over a concrete apron and the band I played with for a decade practiced and recorded there.

There have been brownouts and blackouts, days without heat and days with air conditioning. I’ve dug out the snow from my driveway more times than I can count. Five years ago, the house two doors down burned almost to the ground but thankfully no one was hurt. The street fronting my home was widened, re-laned, and went from a seldom traveled road to a thoroughfare.

There have been good neighbors, and bad neighbors, and neighbors struck by tragedy. The Iranian family that lived across the street lost a kid to a heroin overdose. There was a murder just a quarter of a mile away, and housebreakings and robberies. On the other hand, for several years a delightful family from Beirut lived next door, an aging mother and three daughters, who bribed me with endless cups of bitter coffee and honeyed pastries. I mowed their lawn, repaired their roof, and moved their furniture. I fixed flat tires and drove them around when their ancient cars broke down. I listened to tales of woes and wars, and to stories of joy. I watched two daughters get married and have children. When the mother died, I was a pallbearer at her funeral…

Endless memories.    

It’s nearing time to go, but it’s going to be hard to leave.

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