I am so tired. It is almost 1 a.m. here, and I have been up moving from one house to another since before 7. I stayed up packing until 2 am the night before.
The mover brought his wife and two kids, and all of them, without exception, worked hard. He had to rent a U-Haul because he had an issue with his trailer. His kids, both younger than Reed, were adorable and sweet, and they bonded with Reed. They turned the work into play, and Reed helped move things in a way that he wouldn’t have done if I had asked him to. Reed didn’t complain, and he hustled too, though not nearly as much as those kids did.
The wife was young, and tough, and hauled boxes that I could not have carried, but she was so tired at the end.
After the move was complete, I took Reed to get a pastry with me at a nearby bakery. I said, “They all worked so hard. I felt really lazy in comparison.”
Reed looked at me and said, “Same.”
Then, we ate our apple galettes.
I paid the man who moved us fifty dollars more than he charged me, but it still wasn’t as much as I should have paid. The U-Haul rental alone was probably that much. I’m realizing that I should have paid more.
I am painfully aware of money to the point of my detriment. I am incapable of not paying someone what they are worth, though I have very little money myself.
When I was a waitress, the poorest people always tipped the best.
Maybe this is how we poor folks stay poor.
I am no longer poor though.
I mean, I am poor compared to most of my friends, but I am not poor compared to my neighbors in the holler.
I have this resistance to claiming the word poor, and this resistance is not classism. It’s that I have lived and seen poverty.
Poverty is desperation.
Poverty is not deciding that I can’t afford to buy lawn furniture for the patio I now have.
Poverty is not calculating all of the ways that I can save money in my new house, even though the rent is more.
Poverty means dealing with a $500 heat bill in the winter rather than upgrading the furnace.
Poverty means managing gas prices and commuting prices from living in the country.
Poverty means larvae falling off of the ceiling, and birds trapped in the walls, and possums in the trash can, and rain pouring into the pasta pot in the middle of the kitchen floor, and mold, and sick kids, and a foot of snow to brush off of a car in the morning before driving the kid to school.
I have lived that life.
But now I have a house with a new furnace, and a reliable roof, and a two car garage.
Saving money is only for the middle class, you see?
I’m not sure sure what any of this has to do with genesis, except that genesis means an origin or beginning, and I am at a new beginning.
I am not poor, though also not not-poor.
I am at the beginning of being middle-class.
But that is not my real genesis here.
My real genesis is that, in the new house, I am not sitting in my usual place on the couch.
There are two coveted spaces on this sectional–the corner and the ottoman. Caleb’s favorite places were the corner and the ottoman, but I have rarely sat in either place.
Instead, I have found the most uncomfortable place on the couch where no one would have wanted to linger, and I turned that into my place because it was untainted by Caleb’s memory.
For four years, I have been sitting on the worst place on the couch as a way of avoiding Caleb’s memory.
I loved Caleb fiercely, and we were never not-touching.
I feel that the only people who understand are others who have been with someone so all-consuming.
I was consumed by Caleb, and it was the most beautiful consumption.
When he wasn’t beating me, he was treating me like a queen.
But who can ever measure up? Who can ever measure up to the man who did the “14 Days of Valentine’s” where he gave me thoughtful/funny/quirky gifts for fourteen days and made my own father grumble that Caleb was making all of the other men look bad?
Who can ever measure up to that?
When I knew that our relationship was coming to a close. I started having sex with him every night and sometimes during the day and night.
We were like newlyweds.
I didn’t want to leave him so soon, but he gave me no choice.
After leaving him, I thought, “If I had known, I would have had sex with him one more time.”
I think I even told him that later.
I still regret not having sex with him that last time (as though I would have known when that last time would have been).
The last night that Caleb and I spent together, I was too bruised and swollen to have sex. He touched me–so hesitantly–and I didn’t know what to do.
I didn’t want our relationship to be over, but it was over. He had hurt me too much by then.
Even I couldn’t stay.
Reed is very excited that we’re living in such a nice house now. Tonight, via Facetime, he gave Caleb a walking tour of our new house. I could hear him, and he said, “This is Mom’s office.”
Caleb said, Whoa, because my office is so nice.
If I could have said something to Caleb, I would have said, I have made this life on my own. I have provided this beautiful home for our child on my own. I have moved on from you on my own. I have learned how to survive on my own.
Too many times, he told me that I couldn’t do it on my own.
I’ve had to make a new life for myself–one where I’m not sitting in Caleb’s favorite seat, but also not avoiding his seat entirely.
So, instead, I am sitting on the ottoman for the first time in the four years since I’ve left Caleb. I am writing this blog post in a new place–a new house, a new neighborhood, and a new seat on the couch. This feels weird and unfamiliar, but I have gotten good at change.
This new life is hard, but it is not as hard as the old life, and I am born anew every time I am forced to make this kind of change.
Caleb’s ghost is still here, but I know that I am at a genesis.
He may be a ghost, but I am not.
I am alive.