It started on Monday evening. Remember the restlessness? Well, fully paralyzed by 7PM, I took a few deep breaths and looked at my options. One: stay paralyzed and keep complaining about life’s difficulties and unfairness, or Two: summon all of my inner Warrior Biatch to come to the forefront. I got interested. Maybe I’ll try number Two. I dropped all of my previous feelings about overwhelm and messes and garbage and sorting and put on my mantle (or it mantel? Am I a fireplace?) of Zena imperviousness. I already know how to ululate, so I’m that much more prepared already.
Shirley and I drove to Bismarck Tuesday morning. We stopped at Staple’s and picked up 10 boxes, then went to Dan’s County Market and bought 10 tote boxes, then went to Captain Jack’s and bought a bottle of wine. Fully equipped, we went back to the house. As we looked around at the piles and piles of stuff, we made a plan. I knew what needed to be done, but didn’t know quite HOW to get it done. Shirley started talking. It’s interesting to me that at that point I was looking right at her, and I knew she was talking, but I couldn’t comprehend anything she was saying. I think my brain just shut down with the sheer mountain of work facing us. Our house is beautiful – almost 3000 square feet on the river – high ceilings, high countertops, lots of light and open space. I could retire there. And it was inevitable that I’d have to sort through Mom’s makeup, Dad’s computer equipment, family archives and documents, papers, furniture, pictures, and everything else accumulated in 88 years of living.
Two piles: Dakota Boy’s Ranch and dumpster. 200 garbage sacks. Go. We worked straight for 7 hours with nary an extra breath. At one point I remember telling Shirley that I’m channeling my inner princess because I most certainly know how to point and give commands, but I’m not so keen on the physical labor part of it all. We moved quickly from the kitchen to the front room to the master bedroom to the master bathroom. I opened the cupboard and there it all was. Mom’s brush with her hair still on it, her favorite lipsticks and perfumes, all lined up in neat rows. I ran my hand over all of it, closing my eyes, feeling her presence. I felt my energy shrinking inside of me and I leaned against the sink, whispering, “oh oh oh”. Shirley walked in, took my elbow and said, “Let’s go out to the deck and have some wine.”
I wanted to save Mom’s brush with her hair in it, but I knew I had to shove it into the garbage sack and let it go. Let her go. Is it even possible for us to get through the entire house in 24 hours? Most definitely not. Let’s go. And go and go. We finished the master bathroom and moved upstairs to the loft and the hundreds (thousands?) of books in the bookshelves, the back storage room full of documents, Dad’s computer stuff and files. Go go go go go go. Off to lunch, then Shirley has to head back to Fargo. I take a deep breath and walk into the downstairs office, the last of the beasts, piled 6 feet high with furniture, tote boxes, pillows, books, photo albums. Go go go. I remember Warrior Biatch and call upon her, emptying dresser drawers, looking through every single piece of every single everything. Go go go go. Make a pile for my sisters, another pile for my dad to go through, another pile for me. Go go go. The movers are coming at 5 to transfer everything out to the garage. I have almost all of the garbage (hey – there’s only one extra letter in the word ‘garbage’ than ‘garage’) put into bags, and all of the giveaway in boxes. The doorbell rings – I look up, glazed and dazed; my back is frozen, I can’t stand upright. I can’t walk. I take a deep breath, try to get centered, and look around me. The office is done. I can’t believe it. In 24 hours we managed to do the impossible, and Shirley tells me she’s impressed, but I think she’s more shocked than anything. She admitted that she thought she’d have to pry everything out of my hands, yet she found herself pulling out the swirled glass water pitcher for me to keep.
I kept three mixing bowls to take back to Fargo because mine are all broken and I don’t want to buy more. The house is totally empty except for a bed in the master bedroom, a futon in the front room, and the dining room hutch we never moved. I saved two small dressers for the basement so we could set up extra bedrooms for the kids. I saved some books for my sisters to go through later, not wanting to haul them all to Fargo. The moving men packed the entire back of my car with things for my sisters, and piled the rest of the house into the garage.
Exhausted, I decide to sweep and mop the floors before I leave. Sure, why not? One hours later, I find I can’t stand up again. I crawl to the futon, let the sun hit me in the face, and drinking my water, feel the silence and the openness all around me. This is work well done. I want to stay overnight, to rest, to have silence, but family obligations pull me eastward and I’m home by 9:30. 2 1/2 hours, 85 miles an hour, no stops.
I won’t tell you what happened at our house this morning, but I will tell you that if I ever thought I’d catch a break, or get to rest one second, I apparently am mistaken. Life continues to squeeze at me and I get to continue to figure out my responses. Apparently I am some warrior biatch because I keep getting opportunities to kick butt. But if I am honest with you, I would rather just sleep right now. I would rather get on an airplane and fly to a spa, where I would get massages, and mint juleps, and foot rubs and facials, and disappear for a while. Yes, that would be nice. Even warrior biatches need breaks, too.