Fuck. I’m depressed. That aching soul, bone-gnawing depression. I violated the number one rule which governs my life right now; “don’t think about the house!”
Well, I thought about the house.
I’ve often said that my wife has no concept of what she cost me when she left. I’ve never meant that in monetary terms. Sure, you can attach a value to the house and all of my possessions that I lost. But that’s not what I mean.
I don’t even really mean the sentimental things that I lost. The swing that my mother gave me, that I’d had forever. The “Bump” road sign that I’d had for 20 years; a souvenir of a memorable night. Or my brown vinyl “drunk chair” that only the brave at heart dared sit in. Or any of the multi-tude of personal items that I had to let go.
Mainly what I’m talking about are memories. Whenever I find myself thinking about that house, I have to shut it off. If I don’t, it always goes badly for me.
My aunt Loretta and her husband Bill bought that house in the early 70s. It was an old mill house. They completely renovated the house, doing all of the work themselves. After Lo and Bill split up, I would stay with Loretta some. I have so many memories of that time. Laying in the floor playing with Misty, Lo’s Pekingese puppy. Staying up later than I was allowed at home, watching Benny Hill and sometimes roller derby (I had a thing for tough roller derby babes for a while). Bunches of other memories that I don’t have room to list here.
In 1980 or so, after my mother and step-father had divorced, she and I moved in with Loretta. I was about 15. I finished growing up in that house. My difficult teens played out there, with a whole other set of memories associated with the house. We got our first cat living there. I had sex with my first girlfriend there, in the floor of the bathroom (don’t ask). I became a writer there. And a musician. My first recordings were made there. When my father died in 1984, it was in the kitchen of that house that I first felt the crushing weight of grief.
Even when I grew up and moved out, when I lived in other places, alone or with other people, when I got married … I always thought of that house as home. My wife and I lived there with my mother and Loretta for the first year of our marriage. And after Loretta died there, that house became the first home I had ever owned.
I have so many memories tied to that house that I couldn’t begin to list them. In the end, I think perhaps that is the most unforgivable thing. That’s what I mean when I say that my wife has no idea what she cost me. I can’t think about that house anymore. When I do I just start to unravel. That’s what happened to me tonight. I started thinking about the sink I had bought for the bathroom, which I never had a chance to put in. That led to other things I’d planned to do. I had a long list of projects for last summer. A lot of great plans about how to restore the house to its former glory.
I knew even as I was thinking about this stuff that I shouldn’t be. And I clamped down on it. But it was too late. The genie was out of the bottle.
What I resent most of all of the things I’ve lost is the loss of my memories. As much of my life that was spent in or tied to that house, I can’t think about any of it anymore. It just crushes me. When I think about any of it, I just see that empty house. I see the shell that was the aftermath. The wreckage that my wife never had to face. The resounding reverberation of your feet on the hardwood floors after all of its life and history had been stripped out of a home.
Well, I’m running out of steam. In some way writing this has helped. Burned it out of me, I guess. Though I feel like I could sleep for a week. The weight feels lighter now. So I suppose that’s a good thing.
I hope maybe in the future if I say that my wife has no idea what she cost me, maybe you’ll know what I mean. If she should read read this, she might still not get it, but just jot off some quick comment to defend herself. I hope she doesn’t. One should respect a man’s grief.

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15 years ago

your memories of that house are why I didn’t want the house – it was a place with no attachment to me. what woman wants to be reminded of her husbands first sexual encounter anytime she goes to wash her hands?

15 years ago

Well, hopefully you feel better now.

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