Saturday, May 21, 2005

life imitating art

Apologies for not updating this as regularly as I'd planned. You can read up on all the crap that's been going on in my life over at my other blog. After next week, though, when Mayterm wraps up, and I'll be moved into my new digs in Belfast, I should be returning to my regularly scheduled broadcast.

I've been having literary moments of late. Not moments of reading literature, but moments where it seems my life is being written by someone else. For example:

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm the fifth generation of my family to live in this house. As my siblings all bought houses, this began to feel like a responsibility. When Mom finally moved on (from this house of from this life) it would be up to me to keep the house in the family. Some days this felt like a burden and some times like it could be a joyous thing, carrying on tradition, living here, having my own kids who would inherit this house one day. Since I moved back here five years ago I've been working to fix the place up, knowing it would either increase resale value and help my mom, and/or make it a nicer place for me to live.

One part of the property that I always wanted to work on but never got around to was the apple orchard. Fifty years or so ago, my dad planted a dozen or so apple trees. They'd been neglected for decades, and were choked out by maple saplings, but miraculously they still produced fruit. With some judicious pruning and clearing, they could be brought back to life. It was one of those things I'd planned to do if I bought the place.

But a few months ago I gave up on the idea of buying this house. It's time to start new traditions, new stories elsewhere. As soon as I decided this, I immediately felt lighter and happier and knew it was the right choice.

Last week I discovered that all the apple trees had been cut down.

With all the rain that's fallen, the river is higher than it has ever been this time of year, at least in my lifetime. We get a flood every year when the snow melts, but never this late in the year. Since the floodwaters are so high, so late, it means the beavers, who never stray far from the shoreline, have access to all kinds of trees that were never in their reach before. In all those years they've never been able to get at those trees, until now.

It seems a little too symbolic for real life.

I walk down the streets of what has been my hometown for so many years. In a week, it won't be my hometown anymore. There's a house I've walked by hundreds of times taking a shortcut to get to campus. It is immaculately groomed, in perfect shape, but I've never seen anyone there. It has been a mystery to me for more than a decade. Who lives there? Why does it look lived in when nobody is ever there?

Today I walked by and there's a guy with NH plates on his car, tidying things up. No mystery there. Just another Maine property owned by someone from away who only spends a couple weeks out of the year there.

There's a woman who lives in a house at the top of the hill. I pass by her house almost every day, but I've never seen her face. She's outside often, working around her house. She's often wearing a bikini, so I know what 90% of the rest of her body looks like, but somehow, her face is always obscured. She's either facing away from the street or carrying a big bag of groceries, or something. One time I walked by and she was working in the flower bed in front of the house, facing the street, and I thought for sure that it would be the day I finally got to see her face. But right when I got up to her, she leaned over to work the ground at the base of a fence post, the post blocking her face from my view! This has happened dozens of times now, like a sitcom. What was it? Home Improvement, where we never saw the next door neighbor's face.

So, it is all riding on this. If someone else is writing my life, then this is the week I see her face. It is series finale time, time for all these plot threads to be tied up. Maybe she's a long lost love, ironically living just a few hundred feet away for all these years. Maybe her face is so hideous I'll scream. It doesn't matter, though. There's so much mystery tied up in it now, anything will be anticlimactic. But if the week ends and I don't see her face, then I'm free. Nobody is writing my story but me.