Leaving the Crap Shack

Yesterday, my room mates and I moved out of the townhouse that has been in our family for the last eight years. Eight years does not seem like a long time, but this townhouse has been the epicenter for some of our most pivotal moments. My dad moved began renting the townhouse after he moved back from North Carolina and I was a junior in high school. The second bedroom started as my older sister’s and I’s, for when we were supposed to spend the night with him, per custody orders. Then, when everyone got older and went off to college, it turned into a storage room. Then, my older sister moved in. Then, my brother moved in, and the one bathroom townhouse turned got a little too small, so everyone moved out, and my younger sister moved in. Then, I moved in with my sister and yesterday, every member of my family finally moved out.

It is a little bittersweet to see that place go (well, mostly sweet, because it had only one toilet that constantly leaked, neighbors with skullets who hosted stoop parties and probably cooked meth, mysterious smells wafting in random places, an abundance of flies, of which would fly out of the dishwasher or my sister’s backpack on her way to school, and a shower with only two temperatures: really, really hot and really, really cold, alternating between both in the course of your shower).

As we packed up the crap shack, I began finding old love notes (or break up notes) from high school boyfriends, science projects, pictures and mixed tapes, pieces of my brother’s train set, and I began thinking about all the memories the crap shack encompasses.

For example, my dad would host Thanksgiving dinner every year. However, it was not big enough to hold a dining room table (the dining room spot was filled with stacks of papers and model train equipment, the paint spilled on the ground and stuck to the carpet). So, for his birthday one year, we bought TV trays, painted our names on them, and ate every dinner thereafter, sitting on the couch with our TV trays (just like the scene from Matilada). If we had a guest over, my dad would give up his TV tray and sit on the stairs to eat.

There was also a time that my high school boyfriend dropped me off at the crap shack and “kissed me” good bye. When we finally pulled away, my face felt wet and he realized that his nose had started bleeding and had gotten allll over my face.

We loved watching the neighbors, especially the one who would bring home two twenty-four packs of Keystone light with her everyday after work (It is a little ironic that she worked at a liver clinic).

Or, when we got kicked out of the house, the crap shack became a haven for us. Mind you, the couches we slept on were at least fifteen years old, picked up off the street for free, and had seen so many of our Thanksgiving dinners that the center sagged down and we all were so long that we had to rest our heads on the arm rest. But hey, it was a warm and dry place to stay.

I think that anytime we experience change in our lives, it is a little unsettling. For me, the Crap Shack has been such a fundamental part of my family that I am apprehensive to see it go. It reminds me of growing up and all the experiences that were included.

In church today, we talked about Acts 2. Basically, in this part of the Bible, it talks about the Holy Spirit coming to the celebration of Pentecost and telling the people that they are about to enter a new chapter in their lives and that it will be ok.

I am choosing to view the loss of the Crap Shack as the end of an old chapter in my life, and the beginning of a new, better, more exciting one; it is signifying a time of change and, although change is scary, it also means that, if we choose to embrace it, something better is coming along.

I remember thinking this when my mom found my favorite cat eaten by a coyote. When my parents first announced their divorce, my mom appeased us children by letting us get a cat from the dumb friends league. If you ask anyone in my family, Cleo was MY cat. I remember sobbing in my room as a 13 year old and she, sensing my upset, would curl on my bed next to me. She stayed with us through the roughest part of my parent’s divorce and, when I was a senior in high school, I was pulled out of my economics class. My mom broke the news that Cleo had gotten out and was found, eaten by a coyote in the back yard. The strangest thing was–when I was at school that day, I knew something was different. I remember telling myself that Cleo had served her purpose in our lives and now, it was time for a new chapter to open (which actually did indeed happen).

I like the quote, “people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”, because I think it is so accurate. I think about all the friends I have had over the years, many of whom I do not keep in touch with, but that they had a specific purpose and, once that purpose was fulfilled, it was time for them to go. Especially being a high school teacher, I have 180 kids who will spend four years under my guard and then leave, most of them who are never coming back.

I think this is where many of us get stuck in our lives. We dwell on the past, the “what had been” that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to see the closing of a chapter and the opening of a new one. We think that we are one, static, unchangeable person, and so is everyone, else everything should always be the same. Believe me, this is a difficult concept for me to grasp because I am the master of constant and structure. But, I have to remind myself that life is fluid–it is constantly changing. We are always in a process of altering ourselves, needing different kinds of things, dappling into different things. I can see this as I look back at the all the minute changes the Crap Shack underwent. When I was in college, I needed a plethora of friends who extended into different social circles so that I could hop from social event to social event. But, as I get older, I need less friends who are more reliable, because I only have a limited amount of time off.

So, when I look back at moving out of the Crap Shack, I have to remind myself that it served it’s purpose in my life, I will forever hold onto those memories, and that this signals something better is coming….hopefully fly-less, with a bigger closet, and more bathrooms…

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