Saturday, February 23, 2013

everything changes

I got a call from my friend Joe today, a voicemail that said "I am sorry about your grandfather passing and about the house, it was a gem."  Joe grew up down the street from my grandparents and his parents sold their place about 10 years ago when his dad got Parkinson's disease.  Their house was not bulldozed, as far as I know, but it was hard.  Joe had done a lot of lovely brick patio work that I think was done in by the new owners.  I can't even make myself drive out there to see the bulldozed place, it makes me a little sick inside.  Joe said "I hope you are coping." He knows me well, even though we haven't been close since I got married.  We were very close when in my late teens and through my 20's. 
Joe is a collector of antiques and a picker, making his living picking up junk and reselling it as treasure.  He has collected since childhood.  We have that and reading in common.  He loves beautiful things.  In high school, before he realized he was gay, he would tell me, you are so beautiful, you stop traffic.  He was and remained a big cheerleader of mine, even when I felt like something the cat dragged in. I loved spending time with him, because he loved all thing domestic and was full of praise for bean soup and embroidered pot holders and noticed the littlest details of how I might have changed my hair.  We lived in the same building on Broadway Drive, in the late 80's, a ramshackle mess of a duplex, me upstairs and Joe down, without a bathroom sink.  He would come up to wash his hair.  I have a photo someplace with Joe in his pajamas with a towel turban on his head, standing in my kitchen.
That duplex has been bulldozed too.  It deserved it though, it was a firetrap, with gaping spaces between the siding that let the wind blow through the house.  Rolf remembered, just today, the ice in the toilet bowl one February. 
That was the year I got Teddy Braun.  There was snow on the steps and the poodle blended in perfectly.
Joe introduced me to Jackie, who would become my roommate.  Jackie was a painter that wore jackboots and her coat inside all the time.  She loved the poodle, so I was sold, despite her rough exterior. 
She drove a mid 70's Camero, that had belonged to her mother.  It suited her mother more than it suited her.  She was the only person that was more neurotic about cleaning than me, so made a perfect roommate.  She used to jog, and paint and I would cook and work and go to school and we would have dinners with themes.  It was an exceptionally lovely time in my life.

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