So the other day I was dropping William off at his friend's house. They live down the street from my old house, the house I lost last year. You can read my love letter to that house here (oh the weep factor is high on that one, friends...).
As I pulled out of their driveway, I heard a little voice inside me whisper, "Drive by it. Go see it." Like a tiny, invisible backseat driver, it was. Perched over my right shoulder and goading me to just keep going straight. "Just whiz by, quick. Just to see.." the voice said.
And so, against my better judgement, I did it. As the house came into view, I was shocked to feel my heart seemingly slam against the confines of my chest. The air in my lungs froze, my knuckles turned white as my hands tightened into a deathgrip on the steering wheel. The car slowed itself down to a crawl and I looked at the house. The house that I loved, the house that is no longer mine.
I barely recognized it. Oh, sure, the shape is the same, the hosta and lilacs and hydrangeas I planted over the years are still there. But the roof...that old, leaky roof is gone, replaced with a new coat of shingles. Those drafty windows, the ones with cracks and broken grout, the windows my cat would sit in on breezy spring days..those have been replaced too. The siding, that worn out, exhausted wood siding has been given the heave-ho as well. Now it's covered in new cedar shakes, in an eye-pleasing shade of greenish taupe.
Somehow, I ended up in the parking lot of the apartment building directly across the street from my old house, haphazardly sprawled across two parking spaces. The sob that was caught in my throat came out then, a cascade of tears pouring down my cheeks along with it. I cursed that little voice, the voice that had forced me to drive down this street, forced me to look at what was once my home. I cursed it and cried even harder.
What did it look like inside? I wondered. Did they replace the ancient pegged oak floors? Did they find the layers of paint in the living room and marvel over the variety (white, then red, then green, then yellow)? I wondered if the person who bought the house could feel any of our old ghosts in there. Can they sense the pain? The joy? Or did that leave with me and the kids?
As I sat there, and cried, I felt the New Jenny, the one who has grown so much, who has learned a billion life lessons in just a couple of short years, I felt her give way to the Old Jenny, the angry, hopeless me. The one I thought I had lost for good. Feeling that old rage slip back in, as easy as one slides into bed at night...it scared me. The depth of the rage I felt scared me, too. It's been a long time since I felt so completely enraged, felt that deep black well of hatred open up like some evil haunted well in a horror movie. I wanted to stand there, with Big Daddy, and force him to look at what I lost, compel him to confront what could have been, what should have been, what is now gone and lost forever.
I wanted to shake him and point his expressionless, jowly face at that house and MAKE him feel my anguish, feel those tears hot as lava coursing down my cheeks, feel my heart breaking all over again. I wanted to ask him, as I shook him and watched his stupid Prince Valiant hair flip back and forth, "WAS IT WORTH IT?". or maybe, "HOW COULD YOU??".
I closed my eyes, and let that imagery fade. The tears stopped coming, my breath resumed a normal pace. My heart, which felt as though it had stopped, started beating ba bum ba bum ba bum again. I felt that old black well close up, felt the anger dissipate, like a receding fog. Felt it all roll back, back to wherever it had been hiding.
I opened my eyes again, and looked at the house. It looked so cute. So lovely. So new.
It didn't look like mine anymore. And that's when I knew I was me once more, the New Jenny. I knew it was ok to drive again. Drive away from that sad spot...