It has been an odd twenty-four hours, where I went for my fifteenth cystoscopy and was told there was no trace of cancer this time around. That’s two clean exams in a row. My record is three, after five or so years of dealing with this unpleasantness. Arielle and I went for a celebratory lunch, and we haggled over who would pay.
I was also told there is Still Something Going On, though the doctor is not sure what IT is. IT will call for more tests. I was informed of the same thing three months ago and will start doing the lab work next week, or the week after that.
On another front, I had my first meeting with the real estate agent who will handle the marketing of my house, so it is official—I am selling my home, and I’m wrestling with a strange mélange of sadness and relief.
After the agent left, I spent an hour or so pacing through my yard. Over the two-and-half decades of living here, I did a lot to alter the topography of this small patch of Virginia soil. I created and stocked a tiny fishpond, made a couple of small hills, and a couple of little hollows. I planted innumerable trees, bushes, vegetables, and flowering and non-flowering things. I pulled up weeds until, about a decade ago, I realized that weeds are green and great ground-cover. I put up fences and took them down again. I saw a tall and slender willow fall after a heavy snow, and I cut down three dead pines that smelled of pitch and needles. I hung a hammock I never used between two elm trees.
I remembered buying a two-foot leafless branch shortly after my father’s death. I wanted to commemorate his life. I stuck the branch into the ground and in time it became a twenty-foot corkscrew willow that now towers over the fishpond. I remembered being attacked by wasps no less than four times, and using an almost strawless broom to challenge a hissing raccoon on my kitchen stoop. I chased away a fox that was threatening my cat, and a great blue heron that was using my pond as a sushi bar.
Inside the house I’ve taken down walls, destroyed and rebuilt bathrooms, and put in closets, Sheetrocked, sanded and painted. I retiled the kitchen, refinished floors and put in new windows. Some work was necessity; other was a labor of love. I built a room out back over a concrete apron and the band I played with for a decade practiced and recorded there.
There have been brownouts and blackouts, days without heat and days without air conditioning. I’ve dug out the snow from my driveway more times than I can count. Five years ago, the house two doors down burned almost to the ground but thankfully no one was hurt. The street fronting my home was widened, re-laned, and went from a seldom traveled road to a thoroughfare.
There have been good neighbors, and bad neighbors, and neighbors struck by tragedy. The Iranian family that lived across the street lost a kid to a heroin overdose. There was a murder just a quarter of a mile away, and housebreakings and robberies. On the other hand, the neighbors to my left have been unceasingly kind, taking care of my aging cat and keeping tabs on my wellbeing. For several years a delightful family from Beirut lived next door, an aging mother and three daughters, who bribed me with endless cups of bitter coffee and honeyed pastries. I mowed their lawn, repaired their roof, and moved their furniture. I fixed flat tires and drove them around when their ancient cars broke down. I listened to tales of woes and wars, and to stories of joy. I watched two daughters get married and have children. When the mother died, I was a pallbearer at her funeral…
It’s nearing time to go, but it’s going to be hard to leave.