Monday, October 28, 2013

Bricks and Mortar

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. About buildings. You know. Houses. Schools. Apartments. Malls. That kind of thing.

For one, as Valentina explained in her post on Tuesday, I've had a few walls re-painted, the floors polished, some art work re-arranged. And I have been slowly assimilating belongings that I acquired during the sale of our family home. This move spurred a lot, and I mean a lot, of pondering about these spaces where I've spent significant time throughout my life journey thus far.

A few years back, in talking with a good friend about the sale of his childhood home, he told me, "Laura, it's just a house". He didn't say this in an off putting manner. Not at all. The sale of the house followed his father's passing, and his mother's inability to manage a very large, beautiful home by herself. Certainly he was sad, but he stressed that the memories that were made there would be with him forever. They are of happy days and, life shaping events. And he encouraged me to keep this in mind as I looked down the road toward the inevitable move out our family would undertake.

Scarlet's Porch, 9007 Furrow Avenue

Secondly, three weeks ago I went to my 30 year high school reunion. An event I helped plan. For those of you reading this post who know me, you are well aware that I'm not able to take on a task like this without addressing it with absolute passion. So as the date approached, I spent more time looking through my yearbooks, scrapbooks and  photo albums, and some recent treasures I uncovered in my parent's attic (I saved so many items from my childhood, I'm not sure if it's amazing or pathetic).

Drama, CHS Style (back when we silk screened our posters!)

I haven't stumbled on this article yet, but do remember our class sponsor, Ms. Elaine Alfano-Wizda, writing a letter to our class that appeared in our senior newsletter. She received word that her high school had burned down. Somehow, and I can't remember the details (did they sell them? auction them?), she ended up with a brick from her former school. This, Elaine explained, was the only tangible evidence of her HS that remained.

A brick.

But is that the only evidence of the HS experience? And, how does moving from one place to another impact us, deep in the recesses of our minds?

Centennial High School, Ellicott City, MD

I ask this question as I watch news reports here in NY and NJ about the 1 year aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. People who were evacuated from their homes, not able to return for months. Some not able to ever return. The bricks and mortar of their life quite literally washed away.

Third, but not last in the labyrinth of my mind...thoughts switch over to my fantasy of having a sanctuary for kitties. A no-kill living situation where we could help the feral population and the misunderstood non-lap cats in my urban area. This fantasy requires a building, for starters.

Bricks and mortar. Home. Shared spaces. This is the concept I'm trying to harmonize, keeping memories in my heart and my feet in motion.

This morning, I awoke to hearing what sounded like my father's footsteps. I thought I was at 9007 Furrow Avenue for a few, confusing and unsettling seconds as dawn broke through my warehouse apartment windows. Unsettling only because I know I don't belong in that house anymore....

Bay Street, Jersey City


  1. What a thoughtful and evocative post. I've wondered a lot about the folks who lost their homes and belongings to the likes of Super Storm Sandy and the tsunami in Japan. How does one move on? And what does one take with them, if only in thoughts and memories?

    How eerie that you heard your dad's footsteps, and were transported back to your former house. I sometimes still get glimpses of my dad (who passed away years ago) that seem so real. They're not unsettling to me at this point ... more like a reminder of who he was, and how he shaped who I am today.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks Kevin...I know what you mean about seeing glimpses of your dad, without becoming dislodged by how real it feels. My experience with loss has taught me that it takes awhile to carry the weight, then balance it, and then it's part of everyday life. There's no doubt that the time of year (holidays approaching) is playing in to my sense of displacement, both in a literal sense (no family home) and a spiritual sense. With time, it will smooth. Thanks for sharing...means a lot to me...


Leave your paw prints for us to read...