Divestiture

There are unpleasant things that need to be done. I have to rid myself of many of my possessions, sell my house, and eventually find a new place to live. It’s going to be tough. I thought I might be able to muddle through. Unfortunately, even were I to sell a book tomorrow to a major publisher for a fair advance, it’s unlikely I would be able to continue to afford living where I do today. Bummer.
Over the past few years, I have already rid myself of many things. I no longer have a dozen guitars and eight amps, or enough electronic equipment to fill a decent recording studio. I have sold cars, motorcycles, artworks, tools, antiques, paintings and prints, furniture, books, CDs and DVDs, microphones and stands, and autographed posters of The Stones. This is only the start of an ongoing effort at divesting myself of belongings and clutter.
The more I look, the more I find. A complete collection of statehood quarters, worth exactly what fifty quarters are worth. Playing cards bearing the likeness of bad Iraqi guys during that Mideast conflict, and backstage passes from years-ago concerts. There are things I have built and painted and used, and cooking implements and a set of ancient unmatched dishes inherited from my parents.
My garage alone is a treasure trove of yard tools and automotive whatnots, including perhaps every engine additive known to man. There’s also a mysterious carburetor that may have come from a 1974 Jeep, and a collection of personalized license plates for vehicles long gone. In the shop I maintain in the basement are tools that belonged to my father. I have his framing clamps and miter saw, his brad hammer and hand drill, and too many screwdrivers to fit in one toolbox. I still have the tape measure he used to build shelves and hang doors. I have radio controlled stuff from when I built RC boats, and inline skating wheels from my days as a licensed skating instructor. There’s a blueprint for a guitar I wanted to build from scratch but never got around to assembling, and a box of balsa wood planks for model airplanes. In a closet is a 1000-piece unassembled model of a Mississippi paddlewheel boat. Stuff, and more stuff.
There are too many lamps and couches and chairs. There’s a futon for guests who seldom come. There are a dozen little notebooks with thoughts that glimmered over the years and demanded to be written. These I will keep. There are the broadcasts my father aired during World War II from an illicit mobile radio station that crisscrossed occupied France. I will keep those volumes as well. The pages are made from onionskin paper my father bound by hand after the war.
And there are books, so many, many books. I have already given away more than thousand. The 23-volume Encyclopedia Britannica went to a downtown drug rehab two years ago. The Harvard classics I gave to a father of three from the Indian subcontinent who promised his children would read every word. When I told him most writers in the Classics had fallen into disfavor, he looked at me sternly and repeated, “Every word will be read.” There are big books and little books; books in French and English and a couple in Spanish, graphic novels, 125 Historia magazines I bought at a sale and have yet to read, and beautifully bound volumes from the La Pleiade collection and the complete hardback Calvin and Hobbes.
Several volumes on the history of Paris went to the local library, but they haven’t been shelved yet so I can’t visit. I have all the books my late sister Florence wrote, and an unfinished draft of a novel my mother authored. I have boxes of articles I wrote for The Washington Post and other newspapers and magazines. There are my old original boxed manuscripts from works published and not. There are ring-binders with novels I penned that simply did not have legs and were left uncompleted. Somewhere are old photos of me during my very short stint as a male model. I remember one session where I wore a $12,000 mink coat over a ratty tee-shirt and jeans.
I will keep the framed covers of the books I have written, as well as the antique drop-leaf desk that’s been in my family three generations. I’m not sure about the Napoleon III couch; it’s a handsome item, but not a particularly comfortable one. When my mom died in Paris, the couch was in my parents’ apartment, and that’s where I slept while she was in the hospital, so there are mixed memories.
Very little remains from my two marriages, or from the relationships that blossomed and faded in between and after the divorces. I have a too-small hat from a trip to Thailand when my newly formed family spent ten days in Phuket. The only item from my first marriage is an antique cracked men’s shaving mirror that I rescued from the trash after my then-wife threw it away.
Over the years I have landscaped and remodeled the house and yard to meet my needs. I have planted trees and shrubs, knocked down and erected walls, gutted bathrooms, Sheetrocked and sanded and painted. Now, in all likelihood, the property will be sold to a developer. The acreage is just large enough to put up a small townhouse community or a couple of McMansions. What this means is that my home will be torn down and the lot flattened. I will have to take the goldfish from my pond and dump them in a creek where goldfish abound. The other critters that live here—raccoons, possum, rabbits, the odd black snake or two, deer, at least one medium-sized groundhog and a passel of squirrels, moles, field mice and bats will have to relocate as well.
And then the question, of course, is where to go from here. I haven’t a clue and am almost afraid to think about it. Going back to France is an option, but the country I left as a child no longer exists.
My friends are here. Chances are, here I’ll stay.

About epiphanettes

Writer, songcrafter, possibly the best French pedal steel guitarist in Virginia.
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One Response to Divestiture

  1. This makes me sad. 😦 You have a great house, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

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