The Old House

jessica polar
jessica polar

In the old house, we sometimes slept late.

I’d wake up far past the time set on my alarm because I heard voices outside my door, or cats meowing for their delayed breakfast. We’d sleep late, or we’d wake up early and drink coffee on the couch and watch the kind of Sunday morning shows that only older people watch.

I used to spread a blanket on the deck and lay in the sun as long as it would hold out, praying for my skin to suck up all the sunshine. A rotating crop of guests would join me. The day you did, we hung towels for semi-privacy and you kissed me for what felt like hours, my bikini’ed body hot under your hands. You kissed me on the kitchen counter, too, my hands grasping the sink.

We had big parties that year, let our friends take over the backyard and spill into our kitchen, filling the fridge with cheap beer and hot dogs. We sat with our feet in the baby pool when it got too hot. We drew pictures of ourselves – me with curly hair, Amy with long and flowing dark – on the sidewalk with chalk to welcome our guests. The tiny portraits stayed for days til it rained and washed them away.

In the old house the next summer, I spent days on the couch staring at TV. It was after Amy moved, so I didn’t have cable anymore. I spent the summer watching country music videos when I could get them to tune in. I was desperately unhappy but I woke up every day, walked to work, threw parties and pretended. But if I could’ve, I would have shriveled into a little ball and painted myself into my room. I just couldn’t snap out of it. I was so tired and so hurt that I should’ve hated the house, but I didn’t. He had never spent one single night there, so I had nothing of him to extinguish with bleach and laundry soap. He barely existed in my home. I only existed in his. He was the one who had to clean away my white hairs, my old tacky lingerie, the Kiehl’s soap I left in the cabinet.

That was fortunate, really. I said two very painful goodbyes in that house, but there was never any physical evidence.

I parked by the old house today and walked up to the door quickly and quietly, even though I knew no one used the front door and no one would care if they saw me. The little Siamese cat across the street was still prowling for friends. It was unchanged from the outside. My old white sheer curtains still hung in our windows. I wondered if those two girls still lived there, sat on my couch, slept in my old bed. Is the bathroom still Martha Stewart Opal like we painted it on Easter Sunday? I wondered. I petted the cat for a minute and then walked away.

We lived in the old house for two years. Sometimes I wish we’d never left. TC mark

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