It’s finally here. G. rented a dumpster to haul away piano wreckage and stuff from the barn and cellar. It’s sitting in the driveway now off the street and I look at its cavernous insides with visions of clean closets floating in my head. We have until next Thursday to fill it up. I plan to go through all the closets and the crawl spaces behind them to clear things out. We’ll be able to move out without having to move away!
Yesterday, I returned from a week away on Cape Cod where I took a memoir writing workshop in Truro at Castle Hill. I drove early in the morning to the workshop from a spartan motel in Yarmouth, an hour away. In the afternoons, I returned on one of the major three thruways (Rt. 6, 6A and 28) to orient myself to the towns and neighborhoods of the Cape. That this occurred during the height of the tourist season was high folly, jammed with bumper to bumper traffic once the day got underway. Some weeks earlier, I had contemplated the idea of a second home on the Cape, a romantic notion of a quiet place with the ocean nearby enough to be “near the water.” What I came away with after my memoir sojourn is how fortunate I am to be living here in the Queen Anne Victorian piano place we call home not anywhere even close to water.
I was surprised to notice the huge population of workers servicing the Cape and the tourist industry: restaurant workers, motel workers, cleaning staff, workers in the souvenir shops by the side of the road. Hordes of workers in seafood restaurants and seafood shops. There seemed to be more fried seafood places than probably anywhere else on earth, and for sure in the state of Massachusetts.
These workers were a real contrast to some of the people who attended the workshop. Some stayed in Wellfleet and Truro homes, passed down or owned by their families for generations. Cars were parked with New York license plates. Some flew in from California. Everyone was well educated and able to afford spending five mornings and the cost of the class to attend. From my Yarmouth motel to Truro and back again each day, I got to see both worlds everyday.
Part of the reason this post is called “dumpster” is that the experience of the class which required writing memoir, allowed me to finally write about parts of my early childhood that were very painful. I knew objectively that it was painful, all right, but actually writing about it as a creative exercise, to dig down into it allowed me to feel the pain afresh. AND more important, it allowed me to finally get rid of it. I didn’t come away from the workshop wanting to dig even deeper and revise the essay further. I knew right away that it didn’t interest me, feeling like why would I want to do that in the name of what people call “art?” Nope, that kind of suffering for art’s sake is not my idea of art, for one thing. And for another thing, events occurred all week that quickly shuffled out those and other stale feelings once and for all. To say that it was cathartic is an understatement. This kind of pain was a path to feeling better. But I don’t have to keep feeling that pain to keep getting better. I got it. Now, that that slate is so much cleaner, the actual physical part of cleaning up the environs here will be, well, almost a pleasure.
So, after a week of listening to others talking about and actual dumping of old memory, old pain, old grudges, old regrets, old images of ourselves in high school, in college and long afterwards, through marriage, divorce and lost love that was finally gone rather than imagined still to be lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. Seeing things in a truer light by being away by myself with time to process was better than ten years in therapy (although I don’t know what that would be like, not having gone there.)
I don’t think the big dumpster outside in the driveway could figuratively hold as much emotional baggage and leftovers of memory that clogged my sensibility of myself for so long! If I think the physical cleaning out of my closets will be a chore this coming week, let me just say that the mental and emotional cleaning out was much harder. More intractable. And yet, it was quick to dislodge, once it got moving. Quick as a fox jumping over the fence or whatever they say on typewriter test pages to show the font.
So, for me, August is dumpster month! What a great opportunity to start afresh in September when it’s all said and done. Done and over with, that is.