Moving Forward

Small metal hooks nailed into the walls still remained. “Just one more picture,” I said instructing my brother in taking the artwork down- artwork that had been there for nearly thirty years. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of comical white rectangles where the pictures were, as if the wall color around it had faded that much. I was approaching my thirtieth birthday and finally the house felt more like a thing and less like a family member.

I remember lying down length-wise on the couch set perpendicular to the television. The large, square pillow under my head felt strangely comfortable despite the head to pillow size ratio. I was ten years old and stared above the muted television at the painting above it. I found myself staring up regularly as our sloped, vaulted ceiling lead upward to five long rectangular windows set horizontally at its highest point. Lush, green treetops resided outside of three of these windows. The other two indicated the sky conditions. I often visualized my parents agreeing to build a second story or loft since there was so much space above. There would be a spiral staircase and a place for me to stare out of the windows a little closer. I so badly wanted a two-story house.

Presently, out of these windows I see mostly dust and dirt. The light coming from outside creates the appearance of a film, obscuring the view. Parts of the ceiling popcorn have fallen in jagged, oblong patches. The picture above the television is that last one that remains. It’s the same painting of a girl, set in profile. She looks cartoonish and uncontrovertibly, totally ‘70s. Today the paper underneath the glass is a bit wrinkled toward the bottom. The girl is holding some kind of a fiddle to her chin, right arm in place with a bow. She has a white bow in hair; hair that springs forward and backward from her scalp, rather than gravity having anything to do with it. Her white dress covers her neck with sleeves all the way down to her wrists. The dress falls above the knee, but white stockings cover her long, skinny legs. One of her shoe buckles is undone. Her other foot is turned out away from midline. A bright, red ribbon sits on her waist being held up with what seems to be a breeze because rest of it flows behind her like a set of tails. She plays her instrument next to a blue potted plant with two butterflies fluttering around her. She is unkempt, yet graceful.

After analyzing her through my childhood she became a fixture, as reliable as the rest of the house as a place which to come home. Soon her image will come down and I may never see her again.

So many years later I sit in the very same room. This time I occupy the love seat in “Dad’s spot.” My bottom sinks low into the couch. Although my dad died eight years ago, it has taken that long for me and my family to let go- to let go of this skeleton now beginning to fall apart because of the inability to hold on and keep up. It took this long to realize that we won’t be leaving behind memories, experiences and history. There is so much more life to live and we are finally ready to move on.

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