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Zuzu’s petals

March 27, 2012

I am finding it hard to write here these days. There is so much going on in my head. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of things. When I sleep, I am dead to the world, lost in elaborate dreams that leave me unsettled and tired when I wake.

It is hard to be in this house now. Everything triggers memories. Mr. Spy is feeling it too. We are trying to get ready for this move and we have no idea how to do it. And then we keep stopping to think about things. We ate dinner on the porch tonight. I stared out at the stream and remembered standing at that exact spot by the stream as I opened the envelope of the letter that informed me I’d won an enormous grant. I remember AJ running from that spot back in the woods shrieking “ARRRRGGGGHHH!” as I held a football which, like Charlie Brown, he would never have the opportunity to kick. Instead, he’d throw himself on his back and shout, “Good Grief!” There’s the rock he once hit on his bicycle sending him sailing into the air and amazingly avoiding all injury, even though he wasn’t wearing his helmet. There’s where AJ and I once raked up a whole pile of leaves and sat in them, practicing spelling words on a day too nice to be spent at a desk. There’s where AJ learned to walk, holding onto the edge of the coffee table before launching himself into the infinite space between the table and the chair. There’s the door handle that always falls off, the one that makes me think of It’s a Wonderful Life. There’s the chair that we bought from a neighbor that has a tendency to fly to pieces if you look at it funny. There’s the tree I planted. There’s where the walnut tree used to be. And there’s where we cut down the cherry, providing us with jokes about George Washington for weeks. There’s where AJ and I used to have picnics every Tuesday under the plum tree after coming back with a haul from the library. We’d read and eat. Mr. Spy called it our Plum Tree School and he and AJ designed a flag with the school’s motto (AJ’s contribution), “Eat all your plums at the Plum Tree School!” There’s the tree where AJ’s friend N thought he saw monkeys. And there’s the spot in the bushes where AJ and N once stumbled on a fawn. There’s where our cat Mr. Stein was buried. There’s where Mrs. Stein lay in the sun on the deck in her last days. There’s the expanse of lawn where there was once an enormous trench dug into our yard. There’s where I once picked a bloodroot, not knowing what it was, and came away with red inky stains on my fingers. There’s where AJ learned to ride a bike and there’s where he took batting practice. There’s the garden I built from scratch, about to burst into bloom near the stop sign. There’s the cabinet drawer in our bedroom where, when AJ was a baby, he used to like to sit among my underwear.

AJ came in tonight and introduced me to “my invisible friend Clive.” Said with great irony so I didn’t take him too seriously.

“Nice to meet you Clive.”
“Clive thinks you’re boring.”
“I am boring.”

AJ curled up in the red-cushioned butterfly chair in the corner of my room. “What can we do?”
“Well, I’m sitting here listening to that tree creak outside. If you are really quiet you can hear it.” We stopped to listen.


AJ smiled.
“I really like that sound,” I said.
“Me too.”
“I’ve been thinking about all the things I like about this house and then trying to think of new things I’m going to like in New York.”
“This is how many things I like about New York.” He showed me his hand with his fingers all curled inside his fist, the hand hanging dejectedly from his wrist.”
“With that kind of attitude, you’re going to have a miserable time.”
“What do you like about New York?”
“Music and theater and bookstores and Central Park and the High Line and taking the subway and the radio.”
“I don’t want to go to a new school.”
“You’d go to a new school here.”
“Yeah, but I’d know the kids.”
“Not all of them. And all the New York kids will be going to a new school too. They won’t know a lot of people either.”
“Yeah, but they’ll have some friends.”
“Great. So they can introduce you.”
“Can we watch TV now?”
AJ and I flip channels and he asks me about shows he’s heard of but never seen. We watch a little of The Big Bang Theory until we both get bored. AJ leaves the room to get ready for bed, but comes back a few seconds later.

“Clive doesn’t think you’re boring anymore.”
“Thank you, Clive.”

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2012 6:54 am

    Thank-you Clive indeed.

  2. March 28, 2012 7:04 am

    It is better to leave a house and have lots of good memories than to stay and have it fall apart around you, poisoning some of those memories. Not that either alternative is easy.

  3. March 28, 2012 7:28 am

    Tough changes ahead… not my forte either. I have to keep Dory (Nemo) in mind and “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming” until it gets better.

  4. March 28, 2012 8:07 am

    I know you probably have a lot of photos of the place but perhaps you and AJ can take some photos of your favorite spots and make a T.V.IL scrapbook/photo album with memories of the place. And then perhaps you can do a little interneting (I just made that up) and find some cool stuff to see and do when you get to NY.

    The unknown is scary. And his fears are legitmate but like you said, everyone will be in a new school. Middle school is new to all 6th graders so they’ll be new and scared together. And he will settle in and make friends and be fine. It just doesn’t feel like it now.

  5. March 28, 2012 1:08 pm

    Oh. Moving is hard.

  6. eleanorio permalink
    March 28, 2012 6:17 pm

    I’m intrigued by the title to this post. But yes, moving is hard. I don’t envy you. Good luck!

  7. March 28, 2012 7:44 pm

    Zuzu’s petals is from It’s a Wonderful Life. His daughter brings home a rose and the petals fall off. She asks her father to fix them and he yells at her, because he’s distraught. Later, when he gets a chance to do it all again, the petals are the thing he looks for. They symbolize his second chance, his newfound knowledge of what’s important to him, and remind him that the things he loves are fleeting and need to be cherished.

  8. March 29, 2012 11:14 am

    Moving kids is the worst ever. ((hugs)) For months after our recent move, M kept saying “I don’t want to go to the new house! I want to go home!” 😦

  9. eleanorio permalink
    March 30, 2012 9:18 am

    Thanks. I’ve only seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” once and I’d forgotten that bit. Now I understand more than just the title of this post.

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