black rotary telephone on white surface

Living out of Bags

I’ve packed everything up into black trash bags. The boy has put all his things together. He has never had a room of his own without me. I don’t think he can wait, bless his poor heart, to get his mum a little bit further away. Everything is in trash bags and suitcases, guitar bags and backpacks. It is going to take me at least four trips. Not letting us in until 4.30pm is something like cruel and unusual punishment. I have waited ten months, I don’t appear psychologically capable of waiting a few more hours.

The time honored tradition of rolling up my teeshirts and socks and putting them in my guitar case had to be observed. I cannot move without going through rituals that mean nothing, but mean so much after all. I have to stop singing ‘No More Home’ (Soko), and start breaking out the “Our House” I suppose. Part of me feels trapped by four walls and a fixed address. Part of me feels like perhaps I might be able to be free to do something more with life now I have stopped running.

That nostalgia for the past -for the campgrounds, or the early days in the shelter, for the road and the Tokyo skyline. For New York and the scuzz, and small town craziness where I almost became a hillbilly for five minutes – cannot be subdued. In my head all the phases and the stages, the parts I played and the disasters I starred in, sit there waiting for me to take them out and examine them. Pin their wings in my butterfly book. Write their broken dreams and lost ways. Sometimes I take them out to play. A moment here, a second there. A view from the bus, a spread of green from the window of the plane into Seattle that time that I thought I could escape but freedom escaped me. A nighttime drive through Los Angeles. An early morning sparkle on the Rockies, as I woke up to Eagles and elk, horses and little doogies waiting to git along home.

I can recreate the time I walked towards the camper, all three members of my family sitting outside, laughing and giggling, up that path that led from the shower to the campsite on the Oregon coast. I could hear them laughing easily as I walked towards them, picking my way through the trail wearing not very sensible flip flops. I could see them all come into focus. The Boy small and dynamic. My Girl flapping around like a fish out of water. Billy, sober and smiling and waiting with open arms to welcome me home. Welcome me back to a point in time where I had my people, and my people all had me. I only have the Boy now. It is just him and me, and sometimes I realize that he needs me less and less and will go too, leaving me to my memories of moments I cannot leap into, only recreate and long for. Recreate and pine over. Recreate and stop still standing there, eyes closed, wondering if I might open them up to see again the people I loved at that point in time before everyone. Before everything. Before time took it away from me.

I don’t regret almost being able to stand inside my own apartment, with it’s smart frontage, and its hundred or so year old walls, and stylishly art and crafts movement stain glass. It doesn’t yet seem real. In fact I long for a desk and a Georgia O’Keefe print, and something pretty on my walls. Bumble bee lights and a kettle that whistles. I also don’t regret standing on a windswept rainy ridge, overlooking the lake, wearing three jackets, two pairs of pants and a silly fuschia woolly hat with an oversized pom pom stitched onto it rakishly, hugging my arms around myself as I pull back wood to camp, trying to light a fire for the best part of an hour, battling the wind and the rain and the damp and the cold. I don’t regret letting Billy fold me into his canvas jacket and kissing the top of my head as he told me that he was the president of my fan club. And he was. While it lasted. While he was sober and kind.

I had to save him from a group of methed out speed freeks. They had stolen his phone, and then they stole him. Playing mind games with speed freeks is actually a reasonably fun past time. I got them to give him back the phone, and let him go. “You’re MEAN! I needed the phone, so I just took it!” Making murmuring noises about elder abuse and tracking phones I didn’t hear anything for hours. Finally Billy called: “G-d gave me my telephone back! It was a miracle! I didn’t think I was getting out of there!” I giggled. “Ah, that was me!”

“Heathen! Taking credit for G-d’s work! You are going to hell!” Republican Jesus stikes again. He told me a tale of unlikely events, where people’s minds were changed by the Almighty himself. Not by this little middle aged woman who cares and makes phone calls, scaring the methamphetiminely challenged into being human. Of if not quite human, at least humane.

“You are SO mean.” Billy moaned.

I shrugged my shoulders.

Oh well.

Two hours to freedom.


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