Last Sunday, I followed the sidewalk around the mansion to get my paper. Walking back, I glanced at the front door, and a funny change of color caught my eye. A metal grate goes over the front doors. After the front doors with their pathetic latches were kicked in, the grate got pulled and bent every which way, so that getting it relatched with the padlock I’d bought at Home Depot was a two-person job. I noticed, instead of my padlock, an odd slight change of rust color to something more brown.
I went up the steps to the porch, and I saw the yellow and orange papers taped in the windows: No Tresspassing. And a new padlock, one longer and much heavier than the ones I bought at Home Depot when I resecured the mansion from one of its attacks. Just like that, what was mine wasn’t, except it never was, exactly, but then, that’s how it always goes, since nothing is ours, nothing at all.
I hope when the real estate agent went in, he thought, what on earth happened here? The chalkboard with the art show lists was still out there, and the ghost of George M. Myers’ corporeal representation is still hanging on the wall of the parlor. The den might still smell like weed. The brochures and all the extra cups, the hot air balloon with the krewe Barbies, the leftover artwork, all that is back in the carriage house with me. I mopped the champagne off the ballroom floor, the splat where our champagne tower took a dive. I hope he will see the giant switch in the basement, and the fuses for the x-ray machines, and knows the place is historic and why.
Today at church our lesson was Jesus healing this guy who had tried for 38 years to get into this pool of water that was supposed to heal you. An angel supposedly ruffled the water from time to time, and if you could get in, you’d be healed. This guy couldn’t make it in there, and rather than helping him in, or asking his favorite angel to ruffle the water, or bringing everyone into the magic water, Jesus deemed the guy okay. No water necessary. Don’t bother.
Art that goes away, parties that were art, pictures drawn and not framed, performances, places. We writers have an easy time saving, saving for centuries, even, is easy. Until language changes a lot, or your language dies, your work can be around. The kinds of things we made in the mansion were never for saving, and although I entertained making the place an institution, it was not my calling. Ice sculptures melted, liquor went into bellies and on, conversations tangled in memories, films on the ballroom wall left no mark.
I am grateful the mansion’s ending was so bold. The school year, too, ends in a way that surprises me every time. It will never end, it will never, never really end, and then it does. I am certain I cannot make it another day, and then it’s not necessary, and it is one of the first days off that I go to the swimming pool and I don’t swim, I just lie in the shade, reading, napping, with the smell of the chlorine and my arms and legs out in the real air at last and comfortable. Not happy, just finished.