I don’t have many memories in these rooms exactly, but they both are the only parts that have remained virtually untouched by our prying, eager hands. Especially within the bathroom. And I suppose for that fact alone one glance at those frightful brown spotted tiles sends me back to a happier time, a time when your pink slipper adorned feet silently walked those floors proudly.
We always used your laundry door to enter inside your house rather than making use of the front door, but as we grew older that changed for some reason, no longer finding your side gate unlocked we couldn’t make our way through your backyard to announce our arrival by banging our fists on the that aluminum security door. I don’t actually have memories of the laundry perhaps just recalling your use of that antique washing machine, having to direct a tube at a certain point in the wash cycle into the sink to allow the water to safely drain away.
I guess the memories I do hold are of when you passed away and we all found ourselves clearing and tidying up. I found myself clearing the laundry cupboard for mum and finding all sorts of things. Like a basket full of empty plastic shopping bags, expired cleaning chemicals and rat poisons, even finding grandfathers lost old walking cane. I also remember finding numerous plastic bags filled with yellowed papers. Advertising material from the 80’s and 90’s, old bills and public announcements, even old payslips. Something about them seemed precious to me but for what I am not sure. I may or may not have spent far too much time trying to examine their worth and appeal, needing to understand why you felt the need to tuck these away hidden from us all. It was most likely a case of forgetfulness so it was hardly a mystery worthy of so much attention on my part but it was still a way to hold onto something of yours physically; placing myself in your shoes and all.
And then that bathroom, unchanged since forever! A true seventies interiors masterpiece. From those same brown and white flecked tiles, to that cream custom cabinetry with Art Deco piping and flowering door knobs. Even that bright orange mirror was something of a wonder! I think this room has remained the same probably because time ran out or perhaps the funds ran dry, but I don’t see it being the latter since my parents are more than content to shower my brother with their money and making him comfortable here, despite his qualms and pleas to for them to back off. As much as the bathroom needs updating it will be a sad day to see it gutted because it is the final thing in this house that remains unscathed by us and is as it was when you were alive and well.
For one thing, your bathroom has always been a place of solace for me but I suppose most bathrooms have been for myself the majority of my miserable little life. Even though your home was my ‘happy place’ there were times of great pain too and during those times I found refuge in your toilet, being able to lock myself inside safely before crumbling down into a ball onto that cold and lumpy disarranged brown tiled floor.
I’ve probably used that toilet as my refuge much more since you left us, especially within the last year or so. All of those arguments and name calling at your home, those plans of mine disregarded and changed for the worse. Those changes moving ahead far too quickly for me to keep up with.
I always found myself back in that toilet, sitting down, trying to take stock of it all and catch my breath.
Like that time we were all clearing out the wall unit in the lounge, I wanted to recycle and dispose of all those empty boxes we encountered, mum was hesitant and wanted to leave everything untouched. When it got too much for her she yelled at me and said, “this isn’t your house, you have no right to demand anything here,” it cut deep and I needed to get away before those treacherous tears began to flow so I went to the bathroom and tried to compose myself somehow. Staring fiercely into the bathtub mirror and repeating to myself silently, this would be my house sooner or later and all will be well.
And those times I would come over with dad and close the windows mum left opened during the day. I’d find myself staggering through the room, trying to reach you for help, unsure about where everything was headed. Struggling with letting this house go to my brother. Dad would come in searching for me, wondering why I was always taking so long to close a window or two and pull the drapes across. I’d tell him I needed to use the toilet and go and cry in there. Pleading to you or God for some help.
Feeling so utterly desperate.
Then of course that moment when we were arguing about something and mum told me I was the reason for our family break up, it was solely my fault for her brother no longer wanting to communicate with her. I found comfort on that toilet seat. And when I was helping clean up and my brother arrived and asked me what I was doing there. In fact all those times he came over when I was there. I felt like I’d been busted for trespassing, that look of contempt that shot daggers my way making me ever so uneasy and unwelcome. I found safety behind that closed bathroom door.
At times I feel like maybe you’re there still, confined to only the small space the bathroom provides, waiting for me to come running in with my head between my hands in distress. Ready to comfort and breathe strength into my frail and tired body. It’s a sweet thought is it not?
Still seeing it as it is, your perfume collection and comb laying on the vanity, patiently awaiting your return. But knowing that soon they will be gone, maybe thrown in the trash to be replaced by a razor and aftershave lotion is hard to swallow. I don’t think you ever saw this transpiring, certainly not the deterioration of our family and definitely not your place of peace and quiet turn into a hub of anger and resentment. I am not so sure you’d approve of where it is now headed, a future of long, boisterous boozy nights and possible one night stands. Strangers walking in and out of that front door with such carelessness, it’s such a sad picture I’ve painted but deep down I know that it is not far off the mark. I mean he’s a strapping young lad who likes to have fun, and why not? He pays the mortgage and well that’s it. I just hope he grows to appreciate what he’s been given and treats this home with the respect it so rightly deserves.