I rarely go out anymore, that is the honest truth. I go out when i have to, for appointments and to the market or to the drugstore. It has to be something I really want to motivate me to leave my home and go “out there”. I am in some ways lucky, I do not have a regular job anymore so I can choose to stay home where others are forced to go anyway.
My home is not the sanctuary it once was to me. It still has a garden filled with trees I planted myself along with hundreds of flowers and bushes of all kinds. Hard work and money and time I invested over the years to turn what was a boring ugly place into my beautiful garden.
But nothing stays the same and the feelings of safety and security I used to feel are now something i only remember. No longer my sanctuary, it is just a place to hide.
A bright spot here and there, I have, like the agreement between me and the birds who also call my garden home. Morning and evening and maybe noon too, I throw out scraps of bread for them to eat, they seem to like it a lot if you consider how quickly its gone, every scrap disappeared. Once in a while, I forget to feed them, or maybe I’m just late, but whatever the cause the results are always the same. They find places to perch where there is no way I can possibly not see them. Maybe they send gentle subliminal reminders or maybe they think I’m lazy? More likely, their thoughts go something like this: “Dinnertime, you’re late, you’re off schedule and it’s time you were feeding us?” Brief and to the point, we understand each other. Not a huge problem, It’s something I can easily correct. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of life were that way? No hard feelings, the problem’s fixed and everyone is happy again.
I have puppies, too many, layed to rest in a corner of my yard, a cemetery for some of my closest life friends. How could I abandon them and leave them here alone? Who would remember them, what they were like, what made them special and the story of each, how they lived and died.
Someone new won’t see the ghosts of puppies that I do, leaping excitedly, almost throwing themselves at the base of a tree, if only they could climb it! Their eyes, so bright and shining, they wait and watch anxiously hoping to see the squirrel they just chased up the tree is on his way back down again. They like to chase and the squirrel likes to tease, how many afternoons did they pass this same way? How very much I would like to believe they are not ghosts. Then they would hear me call their names, “time to go in” and they’d come running back to me, home, once again. We were friends and companions and best girlfriends. We shared everything, our lives, our homes, our hearts and a whole lot more.
Those puppies are gone and so is the serenity and peace I used to feel, and I know that these unhappy changes are, in fact, real. How is it possible that almost everything has changed so much? Maybe it was a magic spell that helped me feel safe before but now the spell is broken? Now the truth is there are too many crimes, too many people robbing and stealing and too many dying before they should have.
Gone are the days when I believed it was safe to leave open my windows to a summer breeze while white gauzy curtains flutter and blow. How can I ever forget, it was through a window they came, 3 intruders uninvited and unwanted into my home. They left with some of my things they had no right to but the most important thing they stole was my serenity and my peace of mind. The changes in the neighborhood are here to stay, I’m afraid.
Sometimes I consider just walking away, sending the keys in the mail to the banker I owe. I owe more on my house than I could hope to sell it for. And complicating the matter, this neighborhood already has too many vacant empty houses that used to be homes and the gutters are sagging and front yards filled with weeds.
So if I am offended by yet another indignity. I understand why, even if no one else does. I am tired of people assuming things about me that aren’t true. I am tired of accepting blame for things I had nothing to do with because I wasn’t anywhere around.
I see my home and my garden a different way now through different eyes. What a pretty prison they make, enhanced by the prisoner living within. It gives me no comfort anymore, no pride in what I have built.
If it weren’t for my trees and flowers, my birds and my puppies resting here I would leave tomorrow and never look back, the money I would lose is not as important to me as it was before. This is not the way I want to spend my years from here on out in this place that has been the best of times and now the worst. The times keep changing but never, it seems, for the better, those days are gone out of sight but not out of mind.
Sometimes I cannot believe that life has come down to this. It would make so much more sense if it was just that I had fallen asleep and as soon as I am awake everything will be back right again.
I would leave tomorrow except for the small beauties and the memories, they are what tie me here.