More Than My Share
I lived there once, in the big farmhouse on the edge of town.
I lived there with a wife, two kids, three cats
and a house full of dreams.
It was in fact, my dream home.
It sang to me the day I first saw it,
no matter the decades of neglect,
the rot, the smell of urine and dirt throughout.
I knew, before I walked in,
I wanted to live here.
And live I did. A decade and more of restoration,
rebuilding, painting, cleaning, stripping floors
and plastering walls. Having children. Discovering gardens.
A dream come true. A dream, I did not realize,
rotting from underneath, until it collapsed around me.
The house still stands. Someone else lives there,
adding their restoration to mine. New colors,
new floors. Less a restoration than a remaking.
The house still stands. The dreams do not.
Not those dreams anyway. Those dreams are dust.
Rubble. Beyond restoration. The truth is some things are.
I was left to find myself
in what was left, to find the body left to die,
my own. Picking up pieces, more as momentoes
than actual foundations or walls. And begin again.
It is not what I would recommend, rebuilding.
It is hard work. Harder than building new.
There is a sorting and a digging through the rubble,
down to my own foundation, deciding if that is the
rock I wanted to build on, and what might be new
and how to combine the two into something
that is new, yet has enough elements of what was
to recognize myself, to be recognized
by those who loved me, before.
Who, some of them at least, loved me still.
It is the deconstruction that is the hardest.
Each fallen brick a memory.
It takes time for the pain of those memories
to transform to simple building blocks. Lessons learned
in the puzzle of creation. To learn to smile
at them and what was, or at least was to myself.
I will tell you, I did not set out to create new dreams.
No, I was simply trying to survive. To find myself
in the dust of the collapse. The dream came later
as walls and floors and windows went into place,
a little haphazardly, with the help of priests and shamen
and the luck God gives the helpless.
And now I live. Far away in time and geography.
New walls. New cats. The same kids who have come
and gone. A new love to build upon.
Because in the end, that is where the dreams lie.
In love. Love hoped for. Love lived. Love anticipated,
and I have been blessed with more than my fair share
combined with the knowledge that restoration
is more art than science, more luck than plan.
About this poem.
Autobiographical. Spawned by stumbling on the picture of my old home down in Virginia. (That’s it at the start of the post.)
But it’s not just my own story. I know others who have, or who are, going through the same thing. There is hope on the other side. Maybe the biggest lesson of my life. There is hope on the other side.