It's happening at the end of our street as we speak. The pond and springhouse are leveled. The barn and house will be disassembled and salvaged rather than bulldozed. But, still, the last of the homestead that spawned my neighborhood will be gone all the same. The deer and the ducks seem unimpressed by the sign touting the arrival of luxury townhomes. Funny. They would probably have a better shot at getting approved for a mortgage than any of the people who will come looking.
I suppose it's easy to look back and think that things used to be simpler. My instinct is to believe that simpler is better but it's probably not true. Once upon a time there was probably a girl who lived in that house and she probably spent her nights listening to the frogs chirping away in the pond and wishing that they could be replaced by the hiss of a highway that would take her away from her dreary life.
The old me, the pre-babies/baby me, seems so superior from this angle. Boy, was she ever high and mighty. She got things done. She went to town council meetings and had opinions about...everything. And what a mother she was going to be!
I was cleaning up my bookmarks folder on our old PC the other day and I came across all of these pages I'd marked before the girls were born. The twin parenting stuff stung a little but, it was the super hippi-fied pages about 'green' baby products and the dangers of disposable diapers that stuck on the jagged edges of my mind. I had such firm ideas about the kind of mother I'd be and I don't think I held to a single one of them.
The contents of that house are sold, baby. The house itself is bulldozed into oblivion. And the absolute impossibility of a return to some alternate version of the past has settled in its place.
I used whatever diapers would stay on her scrawny, little rump. I bought mass-produced toys from mass-produced stores that specialize in mass-produced human-rights violations. I went back to work. I let her eat store-bought baby food.
And it goes on. She's well-versed in Sponge-Bob and the Bieber. On her last day of preschool this year I hit and killed a bird while driving her to McDonald's to celebrate. It bounced across my hood and right up over the roof of the mini-van that we use to transport our family of three. Dead bird. McDonald's. Mini-van.
Things change and we're forced to let go of our expectations. But, with all of the stuff I've let go in the spirit of unburdening myself, I should be able to levitate right up out of this chair. And I might as well seeing as I apparently don't care about much other than getting mine these days.
I look at all of the cheap, plastic crap she's accumulated and I want to tell her how horrible it is. I want to explain that we need to give some stuff up and live with less so that others can have more. But the words can't find my way out of my mouth.
What is it that C doesn't know about horrible things? She's already given up a twin sister, an adequate gestation, a small wedge of the field of vision in her left eye.
Some of her best memories were plowed under before she even saw them.
What can I tell her about sacrifice and acceptance? What impact could a couple of Barbie dolls possibly make on this unholy mess anyway?
Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions. Dammit.
They say that god says that death shall have no dominion. It sure doesn't feel that way, does it? R's death. My dad's death. T's dad's death. I feel dominated, like I can't ever get a full, deep breath.
According to the Alliance of Tired Bromides (TM), death is supposed to remind us that nothing lasts forever. Except death which, from the perspective of the living, does, in fact, last forever. It doesn't really matter whether you walk or whether you speed along in luxury sedan. This here is a one-way street into the unknown, folks.
But, they're sort of right, aren't they? The end of one set of possibilities necessarily gives birth to another. And,no matter whether you're attached to a plastic toy or an overly rigid set of principles, you're going to have to let go sooner or later.
This Saturday, while the machines remove the last traces of the past from one end of my street, I'll sit at the other swallowing down all of my regret and sadness right along with the Barbies and the cake. There will be games and laughter and a smiling four-year-old. And that's all that really matters for now.