old green house… aint so green, nor so old anymore, not like people

27 11 2009

This is a house I used to live in.  That was a long time ago.  But it was a good time.  You know, one of those short but good times.  Well anyway.  That house isn’t there anymore.  Not exactly.  Actually, the developers claimed that the character of the original house would be retained in the redevelopment, but they were really full of shit.  If you were to cruise by the same lot today, you’d see a new heritage townhouse development.  My mother–a real estate agent–says that’s progress; I say that it’s just a bunch of oxymorons trying to make a buck. Heritage townhouse, as if.

So, why am I pissed about the tearing down of old houses, old rooming houses at that,  and even when they’re not ripped out of the dirt that’s been their foundation for more than 90 years, they’ve had such radical facelifts that they retain nothing of their, albeit it aged, charm?  Why indeed.  I’ve been wondering about this myself.  For some time, all I knew was that every time I pushed through my old hood, I’d get this twisted gut feeling like something was wrong, like I’d done something wrong, even when I knew for sure that I hadn’t.  But I didn’t want to avoid going through there; I had good times, good memories there; so I would just suck it up and push through anyway.

Then the other day I went to see my Nan, and the ladies at the home had given her a new hairdoo.  This one woman, Maude, she says to me, ‘Doesn’t she look pretty, Peter?’

And so I say back, ‘I don’t want her to look pretty, I want her to look like herself.’  After that I felt like such an asshole.  She did look pretty, for a million-year-old.  Okay I exaggerate.  But she’s my Nan, and I’m used to her looking a certain way, and that doesn’t involve a perm tinted aqua.  Jesus.  I want my girlfriend to have blue hair, not my grandmother.

Anyway, Maude gets all in a huff, ‘It took me hours to put in the rods and she doesnt’ like sitting still.  We thought she’d find it a treat.  Well, the other residents all think she looks real nice.’ Then she left in a storm of cotton and lavender aroma therapy spritz.  ‘It calms her nerves.’ she says and she walks out leaving me and Nan for our visit–finally.

Maybe this is my round about way of getting at what happened, but she did look nice, but it was just so fake, so put on, so wrong.  I felt sad, but I didn’t want to show it.  She was looking at me with her pooly eyes,  And that’s when I knew that it was an on day. ‘Peter,’ she says, ‘such a good boy.’ she took my hand and I melted–she’s still my Nan, even with the tint and poodle curls.

So, I just wanted to post this house, kind of a memorial of my memory of the old gal that housed many years of good and bad times for a hell of a lot of people, and also to remind me that those things remain, even after the building isn’t even there.  It took my Nan to remind me of that.


Visiting Nan

20 10 2009

After I wrote my first post, I went to visit Nan at the home. I always feel sick and guilty, sad and lost when I go there.  It isn’t fair.  She’s been there for me my whole life, and let me stay in her basement when that’s what seemed to be the one thing that would make things tolerable in my life.  And now I go to see her; it’s less than the least than what I can do.

The halls with the sun-bleached posters smell of antiseptic and piss.  Surely mother could have afforded better.  She says not. She says that Nan wouldn’t want it any better, and that she would say that deserves the same as the rest of us, and that minimum would have to do.  I say she’s full of shit and she’s just being cheap.

So, I asked Nan.  But when I held her hands, soft like the skin of a hard-egg, and she looked at me with her hazel eyes, one half greyed over with cataracts, and I asked her how she was.  She looked at me like she knew me, like she could look right into me.

“Peter,” she said. “Where have you been?” She gripped tight onto my fingers for the first time in over a year, since her last stroke.

“I was at your house, Nan,” I told her.

“But all these years? Why now?” She looked so sad when she said this, but I don’t really know what she was talking about.  It sent shivers through me, it was all I could do to hold myself together.  My throat swelled up so much I could barely talk.

“How do you like it here?” I asked, because I needed to know–and she was talking, and that’s not a guarantee when I visit her.

“So good of you to come, all the same..” Then she laced her fingers through mine and kissed my knuckles.  She’d never done that before–so long as I can remember.

I wanted to ask her about the trunk in her basement, about the cello, about all the letters, and notes, and if it was all true.  But when I looked at her and her eyes were pools  tears the way she just kept looking at me and saying my name.  I couldn’t.  I just sat there like a lump crying with her.  Fuck.

An undertaking…

17 10 2009

Guess what.  I’m not really Pete MacLongboarder, but that does describe me somewhat.  But this is my story.  It’s one I have not been able to fully share with my friends, and certainly not with my family–for reasons that will eventually become clear.  But I feel compelled to put this out there–I don’t care who reads it or what you all think of it, this, ultimately is for me, as self-centred as that sounds… What can I say?

This week I have had to start sorting through my grandmother’s basement, her whole house actually and as it turns out, her whole life.  This wasn’t what I agreed to when my mother copped out of her obligation, franky, to deal with her mom’s things, but I said I would help out and get Nan’s house ready for sale.

I am floored with what I’ve found, and I can barley put it into words, but as I go through stuff, I’ll try to make some sense of this all.  That’s what I’m doing here–sitting in her bungalow with its 1970s orange and rust carpeted stairs and clack away on my laptop.

Thanks Toby for your unsecured network–whoever you are…

Back to the basement.  I’ll go visit Nan tomorrow and see what she says, if anything at all.  It’s hit and miss.  I miss the ol’ gal;(