Hard Times

We spent the day over at Other Laura's, helping to take apart her home.
There's not much of an estate to cover expenses, and her landlord would like the place emptied out soon.
We're taking it in turns with her sister, who came by and emptied out cabinets since we were last there, leaving drifts of dishes and pans on the counters, and bags of garbage in piles.
It's all just awful.
Laura always had exquisite taste.
She lived in a series of small places, living on lowest budgets imaginable.
Grad students don't tend to have much money, and after that grant writing for non-profits wasn't exactly the way to great wealth.
Not that it mattered much to her.
She lived in a shared house near campus when we first met.
Then there was a one-bedroom in an old art deco building in a scary area in RIchmond.
I was driving home from there the night I wondered when I'd had my last period.
I stopped for a pregnancy kit, and surprise, Sarah.
Then it was a cottage in an Oakland backyard, in a huge glorious garden maintained by a little old lady.
Sisko cat was a stray there when she enticed him with morsels of seafood and brought him to the tame side of life.
Then this place, a tiny cabin by a creek in the Santa Cruz mountains.
All of these nests had walls covered with rich cloths, paintings, and scatterings of various small treasures, each with a story.
Most of her things have already gone to new homes, leaving the rooms empty, though the worst of the voids is Laura herself.
With no one living there, the dank chill of the La Honda hills has taken over, leaving only a dark, cold, depressing space.
Today we went there to pick up the crane screen, one of  Laura's favorite finds.
As I remember, it came from somewhere really unlikely, maybe the Emporium.
It's a tall heavy six-panel wooden folding screen, with brass covered feet.
It's golden on one side, green and black on the other, with – of course – cranes.
I'm glad to have it, though I don't yet have any idea where it will go live.
I don't know whether I can live up to it.
There were a few things there still up for grabs — her sister said it all needs to go — so we took a couple of lamps, a few pieces of cloth, some bells.
I don't really need any of it, but I can't bear to think of her things going in the trash.
Afterwards, I sat for a few minutes on the porch, listening to her creek.
It was good to get out of the house and look out at the unchanging woods.
Molly cat came out of the trees because she fell in love with Sisko, the elegant city boy, and loved Laura because he loved her.
It was really quiet there, really peaceful.
But it's not okay.

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16 responses to this post.

  1. =(*hug* I bet that was really hard to do. Were you crying the whole time?

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  2. it comes and goes.luckily Tom was there too, so we could help each other out.

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  3. Company is probably the best for doing something like that

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  4. It won't feel ok for a long time – then one day, it just won't feel so bad

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  5. This is beautifully written, although the subject matter is so sad. I've had to do that before, but it was never with a friend, only a grandparent who'd had a full life. The worst part is the echo I always heard, as if the person had just said something, and the last ripples of voice were flattening out. You'll do the screen justice, just as you did Other Laura. (hugs)

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  6. my sentiments are shared in all the comments. is there not a secondhand store where her lovely things could be given the chance for appreciation in a new home?

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  7. (((((((hugs)))))))This dismantling of lives is horrible in many ways. I still can't do it, here. Everything is still the way it was mostly.Laura sounds like a special lady, and I'm glad you carry her with you.

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  8. In Japanese tradition, the crane is a symbol of honor and loyalty. It seems really right that you have Laura's crane screen.

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  9. Oh, I am so sorry. We're new Vox neighbors, so I don't know everything that's happened, but I can't imagine how incredibly painful this must have been for you. Even now, after Laura has gone, you continue to be an ambassador of her spirit. Take care of yourself.

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  10. {{{{{many hugs}}}}}

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  11. Some of them I will put in the in-law part of Tom's aunt's house.We're renting the whole house out, furnished.But the first floor is currently still full of auntie's stuff, so people only rent the upstairs.Our plan, which Laura and I talked about as I drove her to the hospital, was that she would rent the whole house, move into the in-law , and lease out the upstairs to subtenants..(Zoning rules make it impossible for us to rent parts separately, as a duplex.)Since currently we get ziltch from the bottom part, we could leave the total rent essentially the same.Which would mean she could afford it.(See, we had the next twenty years all figured out.)So any real furniture her sister doesn't want, we will haul there.And some visiting professor type will use it as a study, or the place they stash their nanny.The stuff like dishes, and pans and all we will drive to Uhuru House (which she liked), and if they don't take it, the Goodwill.And some of it I will stockpile, since Sair is nineteen, and will be setting up her own place at some point soon.It's just all this stuff was part of her.And made a kind of coherent whole.And now it's all splitting up, and oh, I don't know.I just feel robbed and rotten and want to turn the calendar back, say, two months, and have tea with Laura instead of bringing home her bunny tea pot.

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  12. Laura did Japanese, years of it, and had a serious Buddhist thing going.So I know the screen spoke to her.(And there was an actual crane that visited her creek. Weirded the cats out something fierce….are birds allowed to get that big?)

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  13. beautiful sentiments. sentiments of grief.

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  14. This makes me cry, lauo. It's so wrong. My mind tells me it's not "really" wrong…it's all a part of life, a part of everything. But, damn it, it's ok to be pissed off at "everything" sometimes. Because this sucks.

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  15. I'm so sorry, lauo.

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