Posted on 23 March 2010

Imagine if something happened to your home – like a fire. One ceiling and one floor are gone. You walk gingerly through and spy cinged wood everywhere even in tiny nooks like along the edge of the stairwell. Strange men enter and examine all but focus on a molten piece of plastic that conducted a current that turned on your lights, heated your radiators. You can’t bear the smell of the place and so you close your eyes and leave.

Days later you return and open the door to six strangers. They load up their vans with your sofas, cushions, mattresses, curtains, bed linen, and lingerie. You don’t give them permission to open every drawer and take what they please. They simply do it. You are sent away to live in somebody else’s house where nothing is familiar. You don’t know how to operate the gas range. One day you lean too close and your dress catches on fire. You quickly put out the small flame at your belly and wonder why at this point in your life you’re attracting fire.

“Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now.” (You’re pleased to note that you haven’t lost your sense of humour.)

Time flies and no one does anything until your presence is requested in front of the molten plastic in a dirty smelly room that was once your beautiful living room. There are three men speaking a strange tongue. You don’t understand. One takes pictures.

Finally, finally a builder is allowed to enter who will demolish before he restores. Another man comes with cable and rewires every room. And yet another man comes and repaints the house from top to bottom.

Your stuff is returned to you in plastic and boxes. Now you have to slowly cut away the packaging and empty the containers and find the original resting place or a new one for each piece. Your racy underwear and your boring everyday are folded neatly in one plastic bag. Someone knows your intimate habits and yet you grin when you see a pair of your mother’s large Fruit of the Looms that you took by mistake the last time you were home.

You look fondly at your black lacey sweater, the one you bought for your 60th. You put it on and the arms have shrunk. You unwrap a white cushion for your sofa and there is a streak of mildew. You sigh.

Some people say “oh lucky you to have all new and shiny” and you grin again but you’re sick sore and tired of the mess, of the work still to be done. You want to scream and shout that enough is enough. And so you shut the door to your bedroom, climb into bed and read a good book.


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