So tonight after work I stopped by Dutchill Downs. It wasn't the first time all the lights had been off, but there was something different this time.
Maybe it was the lack of cars in the driveway. But that's happened before. Maybe it was all the trash strewn about the front of the house. I don't know. I got to the mudroom, when I realized that the fridge that used to be in there wasn't there anymore, and therefore I'd have to go back to the car and use its lights to find which key was the right one (I used to use the fridge light. It was pitch black. The fridge is now in my apartment's kitchen).
Luckily, when I opened the front door and turned the light on, it worked. I was afraid maybe the electricity had been turned off or something. Nothing was in there, though. The only evidence of anything was the keys, which had almost 100% faithfully found themselves on a nail on the wall inside the mudroom closet over the years. The inside fridge was gone, the walls bare, cabinets empty. Bart wasn't there to greet me; I didn't even hear his whimpering or barking from the back room, where he often found himself while everyone was away. This was definitely a first of some sort.
I proceeded upstairs. The closer I got to the top, the hotter and more sweltering it got. It reminded me of a thousand (or was it a million?) summer days, no, summer nights, when all five of us kids had to crowd into the only room with air conditioning to sleep; whichever room that might be (at various times, the guest bedroom/office, Russell's room, my parents' room, and the Family room).
Naturally, the lightbulb in the light fixture in my room had been taken out. Some other lights were working, though, and I got my maglite outta my car anyway. There were still several posters and stickers and things on the walls of my room, and I took them down.
I did a quick once-over of the house, just to look. The washer and dryer, gone. The dishwasher, gone. Tables, chairs, and everything else, really, gone. Shelves empty. Walls bare. Floors marked with the impressions furniture had been making for 15 years.
It's prob'ly not the last time I'll look at it. More than likely, that'll be tomorrow or maybe Sunday, or who knows? maybe even later.
I saw a receipt in the corner in a spot that would have been behind the fridge a matter of days ago. It was dated February 10, 1992. It looked like it was in perfect condition.
Before I got out the door, I was crying. I would have continued to do so all the way home, I'm sure, had the emotional impact not been broken with a stop at Wal-Mart for some necessities. I'm doing it again right now, reading what I'm typing. I guess it's better to let things go sometimes. Yes, sometimes it's harder to remember.
Fifteen years is a long fucking time.
Houses can be just as much a part of the family as anyone else.