Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Enormity of the Situation

One of my dearest friends asked me this on Facebook messenger the other day - checking in on me.
Is the enormity of this situation setting in? I want to make sure you stay on top of the emotional end of things. Sorry if that is a personal question.
I answered:
Yannow, it has, but I think I'm getting used to it. I don't bawl every time the subject of the cat comes up now And even though I act like a pessimist, I'm really more of an optimist. Things are looking up.
Even at that time I thought that was a rather weak and generic answer, even though it was true. That question has been bothering me ever since. How do I really feel about what happened?

The best answer is it depends.

I'll frame it initially in these terms - what I don't feel. I do not feel particularly singled out by God or the Fates or whatever. These things happen, and there was nothing I could have done. Perhaps I could have disconnected the electricity from the house every time I left, or had water running on the house, or some such fantastic Rube Goldbergain  solution. And we all know that would be an unworkable fantasy.

Could I have purchased insurance? Sure I could. I will be in the future. Renter's insurance is cheap compared to coverage for a farm. Were I a better money manager perhaps I could have paid those insurance bills. Chalk one up for bitter experience - but once again, what happened is over and done.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Omar Khayyam
My tears for my cat certainly haven't washed out much. Intellectually I realize there was nothing I could do about or for him, but emotionally I do feel responsible because I was not there for him. In his deepest hour of need, I was absent. I am responsible. Right, wrong or indifferent as this may seem, that is how I feel.

I also have a sense of The Man Without A Country. Even though I am "home," I'm not really home. That peculiar combination of location, furnishings and so on is gone forever. It's like I'm in motel mode. Let me explain.

When I'm on the road and staying in motels, I feel that I am a guest and act accordingly. I try to be neat and clean, make sure all the trash is disposed of properly, the towels aren't tossed willy nilly, and so on. I do not believe in making the maids' jobs harder for no reason, and I do have to come back to many of these places. I'd prefer they remember me in a positive light.

I am a guest now, not a resident. Even when I move into the rental, it still won't be mine. There are certain expectations that should be met under these circumstances. I always joke about peeing outside at the farm, and that sort of thing is right out living in a city. Unless indecent exposure is something I want on my record. I am going to have to be on a higher level of behavior, and I am well aware of this fact.

Plus, when I move into that rental, the furnishings might technically be mine, but they were not necessarily what I had chosen for myself, if that makes any sense. Not that there is a damn thing wrong with any of the items collected so far - not my point. My favorite chair is gone, end of story. Will I be able to relax and enjoy the different furnishings and so on? I seem to be highly adaptable, so I expect I will. Just gonna be disconcerting in an unfamiliar environment for a while.

There is also a sort of unspoken set of expectations as well - since the community has gathered around me and taken care of me, it's a given that I won't turn into some sort of child molesting, nun raping kook in a trenchcoat scaring women and children. I am being offered a new beginning, and I should be running with that.

Then there is the hard fact that all my stuff is gone and ain't coming back. It's more than just the expensive items like the guns, knives and electronics - it's also my stash of incandescent bulbs, or all the extra batteries. My die cast car collection - gone. All my books. The cool artwork on the walls. My Dad's yen notes from a trip to Japan when he was stationed at Okinawa. My favorite pots, pans and skillets. The collection of Corelle Livingwear I'd built up from a partial set by filling in from eBay. Candles stashed. Pictures from several trips to Texas Motor Speedway to watch NASCAR. And speaking of - the used tire from one of races. High school annuals. Mementos and placeholders of my past - wiped out forever. Irreplaceable.


It could be said all that stuff made me it's prisoner in a weird sort of way - that I was bound up in the traditions and habits of the past. Being rid of all of that cauterized that part of the past and now I have a fresh beginning. What I do with that opportunity is entirely up to me.

So, do I realize the enormity of the situation? Yeah, I think so. There may be other facets not yet discovered.  How do I feel about it? Like I said, it depends. The future? I feel good. Missing all my stuff? Bad, but not entirely broken up about it. I don't cry about those losses. Nothing is going to change how I feel about my little buddy - just that time is necessary to heal from that wound.

So, Tracy, I hope this is a better answer for you. I think you were satisfied with my original one, even though I was not. Heh.


Kathy B. said...

What a great way to look at loss. When we sold our home in May - we were forced to go through all our "stuff" and decide what would go and what would be donated. We were definitely downsizing homes and there would not be room for a lot of the things I thought I needed;) It was cleansing and felt good to see something - have a memory - and then pass it on to someone who needed it more. Thus there were about 6-7 trips to the Goodwill. I also had some close girlfriends over to clean out my closet and give my many shoes and clothes a new home. You will get settled in and you will feel at home again. You are a survivor and that's what we do;) Hugs!

Anonymous said...

By necessity I have had to pack-and- go many times in my life, every time starting from blank slate. Not as blank as fireside annihilation, but close. (f.i., liquidating possessions of 2 generations in one home and emigrating to US with permitted 1 suitcase + 1 bag +$200 in currency per person, simultaneously being stripped off citizenship in the old country, which meant any and all financial accounts became property of the State).

So I am familiar with the feeling and lived through adaptations.
You are doing everything right, Jeff, you are on a right track mentally. It'll carry you pass the difficult times. You will never be whole, mind you, but you will survive and bloom again.

Cybrludite said...

As I said after Katrina, what I lost was stuff, and I can always get new stuff. It can be tough, but you've got the right mindset.

lotta joy said...

We sold my home and moved 800 miles away. My dad built that house when I was born and I lived there for 60 years. My roots were deep.

When my husband wanted to retire and move away, I left EVERYTHING behind. EVERYTHING went with the house. Photos, personal articles, etc., due to a giant, catastrophic dip into depression.

One year later, and I realize I can always return to the town...but I can never return "HOME". So, if you can face what you're going through, then I'd better learn how to buck up and stop feeling like a man without a country.

threecollie said...

We think about you all the time. I hope in time you will find peace and comfort.

SteveK said...

This is a great post, Jeff! I can see how our lives often get caught up with "things", and how their loss can wake us up to what's truly valuable in life. But I know how much you still grieve for your little companion Rooster, and like you said, hopefully time will help get you through that loss. Safe travels to you! -Cousin Steve

Roberta X said...

Wow. It is such a total reboot. And, as you point out, "Onward!" is the only direction we've got.

Moms Musings said...

You've lost a lot, but you still have the memories of everything. Your attitude is wonderful, not at all self-pitying. In time the rental and new furniture will feel like your own.

When I think about you and your Rooster, I can share your pain and I give my cats an extra hug.

little apple tally said...

I find it amazing how "things" and "place" can be so much a part of us. After all, God gave us a body to hold our soul while on this earth and anything more is temporary, right?
My childhood home was taken for the Ft Riley Military Reservation expansion in the '60s. The closest I can get to showing my kids and grandkids where I grew up is pointing to a hilltop several miles away. It tugs....
Mostly I can be philosophical about it, as you seem to be as well. But my daughter rearranged my bed in my bedroom several years back and it took me 2 years of walking in and having to find it because it wasn't where my autopilot thought it would be.

Marica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marica said...

Like a lot of other folks, I found my way here via Instapundit. I'm commenting on THIS post in particular because I love books, and you referenced "The Man Without a Country." Brewer, 1905, right?

I would be devastated if anything like what happened to you & your farm happened to me & our farm, our cat and two dogs. I'd also be devastated by the loss of my library, which includes that book.

If you will email me your physical address (or your sister's or a P.O. box) I'd like to give you my copy of that book.

miss dot guerrilla dot farmer at gmx dot com.

Take care, Jeff.