But I think a few years back I started to try to double-bag my experiences.
That is to say, in an effort to derive more enjoyment from whatever I was doing, as well as to help remember it, I started making a mental note of its beginning. This way, when it was on it's way to the end I would have a bit of a marker in my head of where, when, and what it felt like when it began.
Because nothing ever feels like the beginning after it starts.
I did it last winter when Jodi and I went back to Costa Rica. We were in the pool of the first hotel out of five or six that we were to stay at on our trip. I said, "Remember this moment here on our first day. Because in a few weeks we'll be packing our bags and crying in our fresh fruit smoothie because we have to come back and face the snow and frigid temps of our New England weather." And while it didn't make leaving any easier I can still remember that moment on our first day and it helps put the whole trip in perspective.
I try to do it during concerts (after the second or third song). I try to do it during acupuncture (right after the last needle). I did it yesterday during my massage (within the first ten minutes out of 90). And I'm sure I'll do it again when I begin our first fall weekend trip (right when we cross the Vermont border).
As much as it may sound like it it's not an obsessive thing. Oftentimes I forget to do it. And a lot of the time it's not even applicable. I don't really think it prevents me from living "in the moment" (which is sometimes difficult for me, I admit). And I don't really dwell on it. But it happens and I think it helps me prepare for loss.
See, I understand that loss occurs every day for everyone on this earth. When we wake up too early in the morning because the dumpsters are being emptied next door, that is a loss. When we miss an exit on the turnpike because we were daydreaming of the sun and ocean, that is a loss. When we find our clothes don't fit anymore for either a good or bad reason, that is a loss.
And when we lose somebody we love that is, of course, a loss.
Five years ago my aunt died right here in the house I just woke up in.
I can hardly believe it's been five years just like I can hardly believe I've been sober for even longer than that. But time takes no prisoners. It just leaves us to do our thing. It's busy.
And for five years I have been in possession of this house out here in Mattapoisett. "The House" as I called it back when this was all new to me and my blogs were something I felt were necessary for my sobriety as well as enjoyable to share.
But five years ago I had no idea that it would ever have an end--or maybe I didn't understand the concept of my mental marker--so I never really said to myself, "remember this moment." Because, you see, these little memory helpers can work for unfortunate situations as well as the happy ones. Even if I'm, say, waiting in a long line at the grocery store I'll often think "remember this moment because in ten minutes somebody else will be standing here and you'll (hopefully) be up there near the register waiting to be the next in line."
But as I wake up here on September 7, 2013 I realize that this five year experience is all coming to an end.
I'm not going to go into detail of what's going on because it's still in the early stages but suffice to say that the house is up for sale and we're hoping that this will be the very last fall we have it in our possession.
But that means that we've had to let in the antique dealers and the Craigslisters and the passers-by who "always wanted to see what the place looked like inside." Yeah, it's been a bit of a circus.
Growing up I always was taught that there was only one type of person to be truly wary of. And that was the antiques dealer.
My mother, aunt, and to some extent my grandmother all collected antiques. I'd go with them to the various yard sales and garage sales and church bazaars to try to find treasures. We'd always go way too early on a Saturday or Sunday to try and "beat the dealers there." Because my family was buying for themselves and for their house; the dealers were there to prey on the uninformed.
See, on average (and I realize everyone is different) the dealers try to find people who don't know what something is worth and convince them that it's worth even less than they thought. Then they take it back in their van or on their flatbed or pickup and put an overly-inflated price on it and wait for someone who does know what it's worth to make an offer. It's a game just like any other game people play. It's business and it's their business and I know that this is many people's only form of income. But just like racism is taught at an early age I was taught to be very cautious around these people.
At this point we've sold most of the things in this big old house. Over the past five years Jodi and my eBaying skills (and sales average) have grown exponentially. We've become well versed in the intricacies of Roseville Pottery, Gorham Silver, Maddox Furniture, bean pots, oil lamps, vintage hats, books, records, plates, curios, tchotchkes, and trinkets. We've had an estate sale for half of the house. And we've had friends come by to take things they would like. And the rest has ended up at our house in Western Massachusetts where it will eventually find its way onto the internet where we put a price on it and wait for somebody to come along and make an offer.
Because we've become . . . The Dealers.
Strange how things work out sometimes.
But, of course, when my family was collecting these things it wasn't for their store or even my store. They just wanted some nice things to put in their house and they had to get up extra early to beat the people there who wanted to get to it first. But however it worked out this is where we've ended up and it does make for a nice bit of pocket change. My family would be happy with the way I've turned the clutter into cash and found new homes for almost all of the furniture. Because over five years there were so many times where something awful could have happened to this place and it didn't.
But five years ago I definitely didn't make one of my mental notes. I really never thought this would come to an end. I hadn't even met Jodi yet. I had only been sober for nine months and so much was new to me.
But I'm here now in this big house with the sun coming up full into the front windows.
It may be the last time I'm here by myself.
Last night could be the last time I get a jolt because I think I hear someone outside in the yard and then realize it's just the deer.
It could be the last time I say goodbye to "The Ladies" whose ashes sit in the bay window--the last time I tell them I'm doing the best I can do. It could be the last time I blow a kiss and tap on the Roseville jardiniere that my mom was so proud of saving from The Dealers that she wanted her remains to be put in. They'll be coming with me when this house is no longer mine.
And this could be the very last time that I set the alarm, lock the door and drive away by myself down to the highway that takes me two hours west back to my home in the valley.
So what I'm doing here with this little internet posting is making a bit of a marker so I can look back someday and see where the almost-end was. Because I'm fairly certain this will be the last time I write on this laptop in this house on a quiet road near the ocean, very close to where I grew up, grew older, and learned what I thought was enough to leave it all behind.
Five years ago when my aunt passed away and left me in charge I had no idea what kind of a road I'd be traveling down. And while it's had a curve or two that threw me I've managed to keep on going in the right direction.
And just like the Mass Turnpike lets me know I've made it halfway home from here there's a part of me that wishes there were no signs to tell me how far I've come.
That way it would just kind of be a surprise.
Thanks for reading.
And, of course, this is dedicated to Lynda Jean Johnson (Dec 15, 1947-Sep 7, 2008).
I love you. I miss you. I'll see you again some day.