As I started to get well last year, the first realization that something had fundamentally changed in my life was clear as I spent the summer rehabbing a run down mobile home that my family used when I was a child.
(That healing experience was also the first post that prompted me to start this blog.)
My father has owned the trailer for almost 40 years, but it had been long abandoned and essentially destroyed with a caved in roof, extensive water damage, and innumerable animal and pest infestations.
Impractically, I decided to move in and rehab this childhood relic. The restoration was emotionally intense, as the place had been left years ago with all of our toys, photos, and trash untouched. I found my childhood clothing hanging in the closet.
I spent $1,000 repairing the roof and countless hours on the gut-challenging task of cleaning up after raccoons and rats that had moved in (and sometimes died).
Windows were missing. Cabinets were wet and rotten. The stench of animal waste and death seemed to permeate even the woodwork. It was a solitary summer of excavating, of remembering, of bringing it back to life.
With my careful restoration or replacement of each 1970s artifact, I developed a new and intense attachment to this long forgotten place.
It was difficult. It was healing. And it was magical
After the restoration, my plan was to go back this fall (and every summer and fall!) for at least another six weeks.
But I’ve just learned that my sister Joey has moved in. She says she is in love with it and has negotiated a purchase agreement with my father. Just as I did last year, she is now enthusiastically buying vintage items, putting furniture in the woods, and speaking of her magical experiences at the trailer.
I feel an intense grief – even a resentment. I restored it. I felt like it was mine.
But, it isn’t mine. It is my father’s. And he’s agreed to sell it to her. (Since Joey also wants it, my desire to purchase it exclusively was rejected.)
It seems like I should have learned some lesson about ‘things’ or ‘attachment’ that would allow me to better process this.
I think the fact that the restoration of the trailer is such a powerful symbol of my psychological healing makes this harder than it should be.
(And those of you who have been reading for a while know that I’ve often struggled with a belief that, always under the guise of “wanting to share something” with me, my sister often takes over whatever new thing it is that I am excited about.)
The trailer is on six spectacular acres. I learned last summer that there are Native American graves that were desecrated and made invisible as a nearby farmer was granted the land in the Homestead Act in the late 19th century.
As I process this loss of something that I imagined was ‘mine’, I can’t help but wonder what those original Ojibwa inhabitants might say to me.
It wasn’t mine. Nothing is (or everything is). And I need to know that.