First full day today with an entirely empty upstairs. Alison was moved out and situated back in at her new rental within hours yesterday. Rental contracts were signed, everything fit and found its place and the house cat took up permanent position on her bed. She is ready to take her official place with the PLU class of 2013 on Thursday.
I realized this morning that it will take a while to accept that the upstairs is remaining empty. She has always come back to refill the space, rather gone 2 days or 2 weeks, it has been her space for so long, now I simply have an unused and really bedraggled 3rd and 4th bedroom with attached bath, and some bathtub caulk that has seen much better days. That stuff has to be priority number 1.
There is only so much a few cosmetic touch ups can cure after 18+ years and three various children growing up in a small space doing who knows what in those rooms. The voices in my head are strongly saying, “Wait, just wait…she like the others WILL return at some point…they always do”, and I don’t doubt that. Her current living arrangements may change, and as her two siblings have found, simply having that college diploma brings no guarantee of immediate grad school acceptance or lucrative job offers.
So do I make the list of “to-do” projects and file it away, waiting for the ultimate move out: the day that the bed and desk and keepsake boxes and ALL THOSE BOOKS fill a truck and leave my driveway? Should I simply close my eyes and avoid the windowsills that need so much sanding and refinishing, the walls and ceilings that need some really good paint and those carpets that should have been replaced about 2 kids ago?
I don’t think my arthritis is going to allow me to participate in too many of those DIY activities although I want to. In a funny way, working upstairs allows me to keep a connection to bygone days–the times when one bedroom was olive-green, the other red and very early on pink with teddy bear stencils. Times when an enormous loft bed separated Egypt from a really impressive stuffed primate collection. Times when an upstairs landing served as extra storage for books, music, and three different people’s crap.
Maybe the sound of sand paper on wood will bring back other sounds long forgotten from that area of the house. Wafting clarinet and oboe, boisterous saxophone, laughter and arguing and slamming doors and that oh so familiar thump, thump, thump of feet on the stairs themselves. Even creaks and groans of floor boards and computer chairs and bed springs. Sitting in our kitchen/family room we always knew who was moving where and around what with all those sounds coming to us directly overhead. It’s been quieter in the last few years with only 1 occupant.
Taking away the last few unpatched holes, masking the final few extraneous paint splatters that were never quite covered by subsequent new layers, ripping out and replacing that awful original gray carpet with the lives of 3 individuals clearly visible upon it means signaling the finale of 18 years of growth, 18 years in the lives of my three children.
I’m not ready for that yet so the rooms will remain as is for now, although I will replace that tub caulk–gross beyond words and probably some sort of health hazard. The paint can wait, the neon stripes can stay on the ceiling for a while, the stained, ripped and useless carpet can stand ready for the possibility of a future stain or two from a returning archaeology student. I’ll keep it as it for now, just in case…