There’s no accounting for memories.
That’s what popped into my head as I was reading a story in Jim Ray Daniel’s new collection Eight Mile High. Teenage boys in the ’60s, hanging out, pawing a stolen issue of Playboy magazine. All of a sudden I remembered being with my West Virginia childhood girlfriend Debbie in her house, up on a step stool, peering into a cupboard over the closet in her parents’ bedroom. She’d wanted to show me her discovery: Her dad’s stack of Playboys, which sent us into a gusher of titters like the typical innocent seven-year-olds we were. The town’s preeminent dentist of all people. Into girlie mags. WTF?
And so the thought occurred to me: There’s no accounting for memories. You just have to take the oddball zingers with the predictable zappers, sunsets on Lake Ontario, for example. Or lean into the curve of the imagination via the above image of Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Mountain Road,”and let it take you to New Mexican landscapes.
Now I’m sitting at my desk in the library I wrote about in my last post, burning some not-quite midnight oil wondering what memories will pop into my head years from now, ones about this house. Will I remember the porn flicks stashed in our soon-to-be-cleared-out garage storage loft. Ones Roger and I used to watch now destined for the trash come Saturday when my friends Mark and Colleen are here, helping us to clear out all that junk stashed overhead?
Will I remember our day of camaraderie at some point in the distant future when I’ve been dozing in my easy chair, feet up, having had a full-blown crone’s afternoon snooze?
I hope so. That’s a day I want to remember years from now. Hence, a poetic mnemonic device:
Preparing for M Day
enemy house of mine
I speak in the short term in terms
of conquering your loft space
behind the plywood door
seven stealthy ladder steps up
where your forces have amassed detritus
over the dusty long term
I use the term deploy
marshaling my own troupes
two friends one long-term
another becoming thus
I employ two terms in one phrase:
I wage war
on the storage area
above your garage
where for twenty-six years
a catchall term I coin for:
plastic port-a-potty (long-term)
VHS porno tapes
humpback trunk stuffed
with old bedding
and twelve-by-twelve tent (short-term)
Barbie dolls in their Barbie wardrobe
my marketing-career portfolio
and a dozen or more originally packaged boxes
of West Virginia Specialty Glass Company
hand-blown stemware pitchers salad plates
tumblers a candy dish or two (very long-term)
My army will rout it all out
What match are memories sealed and labeled
for a domestic Sun Tzu
preparing for M Day
with her loyal lieutenants
Block and Powderly
and husband Weir bringing up
the rear according to strategic maneuvers
body-bagged junk to the curb
donations to the car
prisoners of my hoarded memories
to the southeast corner by the door
At the end of the day’s battle
I will be able to say
in no uncertain terms
I love you my enemy my house
Getting back to that business of goofy memories that can pop up at the oddest times. There’s always the possibility that I will also recall astonishment – the astonishment of Dewey, the septic system man, who had never heard this one before: in the 26 years that I’ve lived here, 19 of them with my Roger, we have never had our tank pumped. Twenty-six years, no problem. No apparent need to call in a professional shit-sucker. Not broken, don’t fix. But, New York State Law requires sellers to empty the pot and have it certified functional. He’s coming tomorrow to get the stink out. It’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. I must remember to take pictures. (And sprinkle a little bit of my brother’s bone dust into the slurry.)
We have gone away from here many, many times but this house has for so very long been the home we come home to, as we did in June, returning from our two weeks in Taos, happy to have been in our little home-away-from-home at Casa Encantada, and to have had the privilege to walk among the old adobe homes of Taos Pueblo. Two weeks of warm, bright days and cool nights in our love nest in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in a sage desert along the gorge of the Rio Grande. O’Keeffe country. Lawrence country. Our country for many years now, a dozen or more trips west to northern New Mexico and home again. So many years we have brought memories of Taos back with us in our hearts to live with us by the lake in our home-home.
I realize tonight also that this will also be the home we return to from our forthcoming adventure to Scotland, Paris, and Germany’s Black Forest, departing July 26 for 18 days 14. Our first time in Europe together. A welcomed vacation from sorting, packing, hauling. But a sobering thought occurs to me: this will be the last time we return from a journey to our lake home. Big sigh.
If you want to follow the Scotland portion of our adventure, go to Lindblad Expeditions’ Highlands Cruise on the Lord of the Glen: http://www.expeditions.com/destinations/scotland/ There’s a link on the page to “Daily Expedition Reports.” The crew will be posting those during our adventure, July 29-August 9.
Meanwhile, thank you for being with me at home and abroad these past seven years. The saga will continue at the same desk on the same laptop if from a different library, a new home where you can join me, I would hope, in setting down stakes. Meanwhile, this post will serve as a memory booster of the time I last spoke to you from Edrose Shores. Au revoir.
Finally, as usual, I leave you good people the opportunity to do some further reading if you’re so inclined:
· You might get a chuckle out of my poem in the new issue of The Homestead Review; thanks to editor Jennifer Felluth for publishing “Imagine a Holy-Roller Hyphen Revival First-Hand.” Go to: http://www.hartnell.edu/homestead_review/Spring_2014/merrifield.pdf
· I was tickled pink that editor Nathan Hondros at Regime Magazine in Australia gave the light of day to “Aubade in Nine Amphribrachs.” It’s from my collection When the Night Is Slow: Poems après Leonard Cohen, now off being eyeballed by a publisher. Find my Regime poem at: http://www.regimebooks.com.au/regime04/
· My thanks to Roberta Hill, editor, and Michael McDermott, editor/publisher at About Place Journal. The new issue, “Enlightened Visions in the Wake of Trauma” is a breathtaking, passionate call to action on behalf of our home planet. You’ll find my poem at http://aboutplacejournal.org/enlightened-visions/s3-iii-i/Karla-Merrifield-iii-i/