Friday, March 6, 2015

up in my attic

Next up in house renovations, the attic.  We have had the roof repaired.  We have had it insulated, which it was not, really.  We have been so much warmer this winter as a result.  

But as we were preparing for the spray foam insulation to go in and poking around up there, we noticed something very unique about the space.  It is big.  And open.  And full height in the entire section over the original part of the house.  

Now I love our very old house.   But one thing it lacks is open space.  The layout is still original.  Rooms are small and oriented around the large center chimney.  There are undersized Revolutionary War-era doors between each room.  And no halls to speak of.  Ceiling heights are low in some places, too.  And despite my family's love of ping pong?  There is no place indoors to have a ping pong table.   This has not kept me from purchasing a ping pong table. But it lives on our screen porch right now, and has spent the winter covered in snow drifts.  

What about the basement you may ask.  Well.  I have mentioned the basement.  It is not a lovely place.  And Jonathan would have to play ping pong on his knees in order not to hit his head.  

And so, we began thinking.  About a simple open hangout space in the attic.  With room for the ping pong table.  Insulation project now almost complete, except for some shoring up of the floor boards in several very wobbly areas, we are ready to begin that process.

First up has been to clean, sort, donate and repack the items that had been thrown and stored up there since we moved in.  I have been working on this slowly while I have had sick kids home almost every day for a good while here.  

It is slow going.  Not just because there are small sickly and rather pathetic people with needs downstairs.  But also, because going through the things up here, the things we had put here because they were not being used, and haven't been used, but that giving them away was too difficult just then, is hard work.

my wedding dress, and my mother's above it

The crib.  The bins of baby clothes.  The art work collections that began the day each child started school.   The boxes and boxes of graduate school books and papers. It is an emotional process to sit upon the rough wide plank flooring that is hundreds of years old, feeling as though our family's life span here is so very small comparatively, and yet so very large.  For me.  As I open each box, sort through each pile, I have a few moments to remember the times from which these items were saved and collected.  Time to sort through pages with the handwriting of people I spent intense years with, to run my fingers across fabrics that I held tiny infants in.  

I am saving what I can fit into the allotted storage space.  Those items I think our children will enjoy seeing some day when I place them into their older selves' hands.  Hopefully with a story about why I saved it for each of them.

For me, it is a process of re-identification of sorts.  Not a research psychologist.  

Not a mother of babies or even small children.  

And well, if those things can be filed and packed and donated and recycled, what is it that remains and who are we, who am I now?   And I remind myself that I am someone who is creating space, opening space for the growing that is ahead.

While I was up there one day, I was looking through a folder that held my application for licensure as a clinical psychologist in the State of Massachusetts, one that I had apparently almost completely filled out, though I have no memory of doing so, the date on it in my handwriting just days before Julia was born. 

As I looked through it, Julia herself quietly arrived.  And she gasped.  And looked at me, surrounded by ten boxes of paperwork with a bin of Halloween costumes that are now all too small to wear off to the side, her crib quilt in my lap and me likely looking dazed and far away.

Mommy, it's like being inside your brain up here.  Sure.  She was referring to the bumpy other-worldy white foam on the ceiling. It is very gray matter-ish.  

But she was right.  This space that has held so much of what has come before for us, for me.  With its emerging open space for what is yet to be.  It is like being inside my brain up there.

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