Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Love Among the Ruins

I'm living in a state of unKate. I'm not happy about this.

See this house? This is Katharine Hepburn's family estate on the coast of Connecticut. I do not live in this house.

I live in a condo in the middle of Los Angeles. I hate the word condo; it's repulsive. Maybe because it's one letter away from condom, which is another thing I don't want to live in.

The place is a wreck. We're moving this year—but not yet. My daughter is going to college—but not until next month. Two of us work at home—our projects are everywhere. The carpet is...oh god, don't even get me started on the carpet.

When I'm not laughing about this, which is about 30 percent of the time, I get depressed. I aspire to better than this. I aspire to a grand old white clapboard house with wood-plank floors and windows that open to a view of the Atlantic. Failing that, I aspire to a spartan one-room loft in Greenwich Village with brick walls and transvestite hookers shrieking outside the window in the middle of the night. That's where we'll be living in a few months. Just...not yet.

I'm not sure whether my grumpiness is really about the condom and the carpet—or whether it's the one-foot-on-the-dock, one-foot-on-the-rowboat sense of displacement I'm feeling.

We've lived in this place for 10 years. When we moved in, my daughter had just finished second grade. I remember wondering what color to paint her room and thinking to myself, 'Robin's-egg blue.'

I turned and asked her, "What color should we paint your room?"

She thought for a minute, then said, "Robin's-egg blue."

It's still robin's-egg blue, underneath the posters and the pictures and the postcards that have been taped to the wall. Her project this summer is to clear out all the old stuff she doesn't want anymore. The project is going...slowly.

Every week or so, I take a few boxes of clothing or household items or old toys to Goodwill. The pencil marks on the doorframe where we measured The Child's height will be painted over. I guess the Obama sign in the window will have to come down, too.

It's funny how you can be so eager to move forward into the new thing and still feel bereft about the loss of the old thing. (Not the carpet. I won't feel at all bereft when we lose that frigging carpet.)

I wonder if Katharine Hepburn felt this way in 1932 when she boarded the train that brought her west to Hollywood. When she landed on the station platform in Pasadena with red, swollen eyes, was it just because a cinder had flown into her eye in Albuquerque?

I'd like to think even Miss Hepburn felt a pang for the things left behind.

1 comment:

Michele Hush said...

Here is another housing choice for you: until her last few years, Kate spent much of her time in her townhouse on East 49th Street. She even had a backyard. I worked around the corner, could see her yard from my office window and saw her out on in front of her house quite a few times. Her hair was always delightfully askew and she was usually wearing a black pajama-type outfit that reminded me of the Viet Cong. She was so great.