Saturday, June 22, 2013


Home is So Sad
by Philip Larkin

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was: 
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

Brian Doyle started one of his stories by saying: Here's a story I never told before, but it's been haunting me, so I think I have to tell it, because I'm pretty sure no one else will, and if a story doesn't get told, isn't that a door that never gets a chance to open, and isn't that a shame and a sin?

Here is a small one of mine that I suppose needs to be put in words. It's super sappy, and so I am super sorry for that. You've been forewarned. 

Most people who know me know that I moved around quite a bit after my parents got divorced. The custody switched or the rent wasn't paid or there was a better place with which to bribe us kids. With each move I was made aware of my attachment to things, and each move decreased that attachment. Things just get lost during moves. And once moving became something expected I stopped taking things, except the necessities, out of the boxes all together. Really, it just made me a very efficient mover. I came to college with all of my belongings. I left nothing at home. By that time, after moving eight times, I had a box of books, a box of papers and "memories", and my clothes. 

I didn't really cry over moving. I was too exhausted to. That is until I was putting the dishes away after move number four. I just wanted the boxes in the kitchen out of the way. Mom was working and the other kids were asleep, so I had time. I started filling the silverware drawer. White plastic knives, Red handled spoons from Target, random chopsticks, Clear plastic forks, most of the metal set that my mom got in the previous move, and the large serving spoons from the set purchased in the move before that one. By the time I emptied the box there were two forks from the original silverware set that my family had used before the split. Two.

It shouldn't have been such a big deal to me. Cutlery is made up of a lot of pieces, and they aren't that big, so it makes sense that if we could loose random chairs we would lose some silverware. I can't believe I am confessing that cutlery made me cry. But it did. I ended up opening and turning over every box labeled "kitchen", looking for the rest of the silver with the shell design on the handles while I was basically having a meltdown. I found all the big serving spoons, most of the forks, and butter knives. I only found three of the spoons. 

I sat on linoleum for four hours in the middle of the night among cutting boards, drinking glasses, pots, pans, jars, ripped boxes, and tape. 
Because of missing spoons. 

It was a mess. It was all always a mess. The silverware drawer had plastic knives and forks from all the times we couldn't even find the right kitchen box. The Target spoons from the second move when we ate way too much cereal and plastic spoons constantly breaking became impractical. I realized that even then I always favored using the shell handled spoons because I was used to the way they fit in my mouth. 

When we moved in with my Dad I discovered where the spoons had gone. Much of my life was in pieces and it hurt me to see the silverware set separated. I hated hunting through the drawers not knowing what I would find.

I hated moving because it meant I would not be used to where the silverware drawer was. When you go to a friends house for dinner you have to ask where the forks are. In the places I lived I felt like I was constantly asking myself where we kept the forks. 

You know when you leave your bedroom to get something from the pantry and you end up going straight to the silverware drawer and then realizing you had come down for something else? It happens out of habit. That didn't happen to me anymore. I still miss that very much.
I couldn't tell guests where they could find the spoons without being embarrassed that I had to pause to remember where they were in whatever house I was in. 

I will consider myself at home when I accidentally wander to the cutlery drawer when I meant to get myself a pen. When I put away the clean dishes and all my spoons match. When I don't have to count them to know how many there are.