Well, it’s been a while …
… since I’ve posted a blog
… since I’ve seen fall leaves
… since a dating site has hacked my blog
… since I’ve used that cliché.
But here I am. A lot of stuff going on.
We are less than two weeks away, God willing, from moving into a new house – one in the country with five acres. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of that land, but something will come to mind. Always does. Definitely a huge garden. Probably some pretty grass. I would say “trees,” but this property already has pecan, fig and several I couldn’t identify the last time we were there. I don’t want to overdo it on the trees.
For now I look forward to simply mowing it – going up and down and back and forth on a riding lawnmower while no more than 10 cars drive by. I hope it’s not 95 degrees and sunny like it usually is. I’ll have to buy one of those straw hats old men wear.
Six years ago, we moved into the house we’ll be leaving. It is a brick home in a mill village surrounded by other alike-looking brick homes. Lifelong residents would put down neighborhoods like ours because since the five textile mills that once made this town run shut down for good. Mill homes like mine – built for the mill workers decades before – decreased steadily in value.
But I always thought they were cool. Some mornings and some nights, I’d sit on the front porch in the swing I’d painted with Kalista and imagine the neighborhood at its peak. I’d heard stories about the owners of the mill and big shots fining residents for not keeping their yards neat. For not keeping paint on the cement porch steps. For not sweeping their sidewalk.
I bet our neighborhood was something to see.
Some woman from Greenville paid to have new townhomes built just down the street from us. Shiny and new, she tried renting them out for $1,000 a month, but no one’s going to pay that much to live in a run-down mill village in a town where nothing’s going on anyway. Eventually, they became Section VIII housing, meaning the government will pay more than 80 percent of the rent to have a poor family live there – and that’s exactly what happened, in townhome after townhome. The endeavor was so successful, more townhomes were built; more poor persons moved in. The rest is history. We now live in a truly poor neighborhood and get to experience all of the crime statistics the government says come with low-income residents.
When Kalista and I moved in, we were surrounded by old persons. There was a sweet old woman next door whose kids came over on Sundays for dinner. There was an old couple across the street and countless more around them. They served as a barrier to the outside world for my daughter and me. But they have all died, for the most part … buried in the mill village cemetery behind our house.
My parents used to encourage me to move out of the neighborhood, citing Kalista’s inability to make decent friends in a neighborhood like ours. They seemed right most of the time – especially the time one of the little girls came over on a summer day and left a few hours later with arms full of Kalista’s toys she had convinced my daughter to give. Or the time she said some girls laughed at her from their driveway when she fell off her bike. But there was one little girl Kalista befriended who I think she’ll always remember.
“Daddy, remember when we used to … ”
My recent weeks have been full of these beginnings of sentences regarding memories Kalista has at the house. She’s excited to move, but she inherited my ability to be sentimental. My ability to find beauty in something everyone else says is ugly. She remembers things I have forgotten – things I did not even know at the time of their conception would even be a memory. She can disregard 1,000 bad experiences to allow one good one to dominate her collection of recollections.
“What are you going to miss most about this house?” I asked recently.
I don’t know what I wanted out of that house when we moved in. I could never make it have a bigger yard or more bedrooms. I could never build a study or place to watch football. I could never make room for a swimming pool or basketball goal. I could never take our house in the mill village and bring back the sentiment of the 1950s.
So I shouldn’t be so sad about leaving this house for a place in a smaller town, surrounded by farmland, more room and knotty pine walls inside. I should be glad I’ve got so much grass to mow on a lazy Sunday. I should be glad we have a fireplace and room for a huge table and chairs in the kitchen, around which Kalista’s new siblings and stepmother can sit. I should be glad the kids can ride their bikes everywhere without fear of sex offenders or gangsters spoiling the essence or innocence of perfect days.
I am glad. I am sad. I am sentimental. I am attached.
But this is life and things change. I know that; I try to teach that to Kalista. I try and I fail.
I will miss our house in the mill village.