Better and better, then worse and worse. That is the way that it went. Maybe the way it always goes, I don’t know.
But still, everything, better and better, for years. I built the spiral staircase – finished it! – I spun it right up through where my childhood bedroom had been. It blossomed up onto a landing above the old living room. I put a garden in up there. A trellis with trumpet vines. A telescope so I could look out across the harbor. Across the sky.
And of course by that time, the entire west end of the house was different. New and improved. Expanded. Remodeled. Remade in accordance with my dreams.
It was my life’s work, this house.
I mean, flying buttresses. I was going to have flying-fucking-buttresses! They were on back order, but I was going to have them. Soon. Flying buttresses and an indoor swimming pool. And a bowling alley. And a watch tower. And a mill tower. And a private theater for movies and something called an “upper bailey,” though I did not have a clue what an upper bailey even was.
On Sundays, the townspeople came. They came down the hill to the beach so they could see my house and so they could see me work and so they could see the progress I had made.
They said, “Look at what Katy’s done now!”
They said, “Her house is more amazing this week than last!”
They said, “Just imagine how amazing her house will be tomorrow!”
Better and better and higher and higher, and it kept on like that right up to the moment when everything changed. When everything got worse and worse.
The morning it happened, I opened my eyes. I blinked, blinked again, and everything was wrong. The light coming in the window – that window over near the chest of drawers and the shelf on which I’d placed the picture of Dad and also the German mug from our trip to Berlin – was wrong. My inner compass was wrong, tilted, off somehow.
Perhaps I had overslept. Perhaps it was afternoon already. Perhaps I was ill.
Perhaps. But no. I stood – wrong, wobbly, the wooden floor felt crooked – and I made my way to the window and I saw… open sea. Breathe, keep breathing, and I ran to the front porch, which was now the prow of the house.
During the night a tide had come and pulled my house out to sea! And the west end was gone, and the trellis with the trumpet vines was gone, and the garden and the telescope and the back porch, gone.
I panicked. Ran back inside, from window to window to see what I’d lost.
“I have to get back to shore!” I shouted out at no one. I mean, good Lord, I had to find and I had to reattach the west end of my home. And the trellis with the trumpet vines. And the garden. And the telescope. And the back porch. Obviously!
I shouted out at no one, “My flying-fucking-buttresses are supposed to be delivered today!”
No shoreline in sight. I was floating on the ocean, my feet dangling off the porch, eating cold beans from a can and thinking. Planning. Dreaming. How would I ever finish my dream house out here?
* * * * *
Worse and worse.
After three months, a wave came along and took my whole front porch away. After four months, the chest of drawers fell through a rotten spot in the floor. And the floorboards leaked. And the paint faded. And cracks lined the walls and the ceilings.
At night, sometimes, there were cruise ships full of people. Out there. I’d hear their music and their laughter. I’d see the flashing lights of their never-ending parties. But the cruise ships never saw me.
No one was coming to rescue me now.
On Wednesday, I woke up feeling empty and blue, thinking, “How could life ever be worse than this?”
I climbed up on the headboard and then through a hole in the roof. And I looked down at my house, floating on the ocean. At my life’s work. My home. At the holes and the cracks and the rips and the rot.
It looked horrible. Disappointing. Hopeless, even.
But I knew no matter how bad my house looked (and it looked very, very bad), it would never look this good again. I could see my future. Worse and worse. The windows would fall out and the canned goods would run out and my bed would crumble to dust.
Tomorrow will be just like today but an itsy bit worse. The day after tomorrow will be an itsy bit worse still. And I sit here now, knowing I will look back on this – in a week, in a month, in a year – and I will call this The Good Old Days.
Everyone would have marveled at my amazing flying buttresses.
That was pretty heartbreaking. It was also very good.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Rupert. I've been completely unsure of everything I've posted in the past month or so.Delete
I seem to be rewarded for just testing how much weird crap people will put up with.
Yes, that's how life goes. Just when you think life is getting better, everything is taken away from you. Sometimes it's bit by bit: Sometimes it's all at once.ReplyDelete
Woodstock was kind of a war for peace. It made Richard Nixon rethink things after he had escalated the Vietnam War and he decided to end it as he had promised. Unfortunately, the young didn't realize that the sex and drugs they were doing in protest had consequences. Many overdosed, there were more unwed mothers, and there was widespread venereal disease. There were even new diseases like herpes and AIDS. There WAS peace for about ten years then the 80s came and a new generation who didn't see the ravages of war on the nightly news everyday and who knew nothing about what it was like being faced with being shipped off to war decided that they wanted to go kill some "bad guys" so they enlisted in Desert Storm and war began anew.
Latter, there would be another president by the same name who would escalate war even further. Because a group of idiots flew planes into a couple of building, he attacked a country that didn't attack us. He was going to finish what his father started, by God. The problem is that I'm not sure who his "God" really was.
Each year the president asked Americans to give up their rights and liberties. People blindly started thinking it was a good idea to give up their rights and liberties so they could feel a little safer. The young didn't realize their value anyway. Many of them hadn't experienced freedom such as we had. They were hypnotized by bigger TVs, faster computers, and, of course, cell phones and video games. Now, though some people THINK things are better, they are making things worse by wanting to take away the rights of others. Not just the left or the right but both sides. Neither sees the inevitable outcome of doing such things because they don't remember what it was really like to have the measure of freedom we had previously. THEN. THINGS. GOT. WORSE.
Look on the bright side, Cal. We're the best friends any of us ever had. We can tell each other things we'd never tell our siblings or lovers.Delete
And it is all still going to be going when we're gone, Cal.Delete
They're going to look at us like we were in the Dark Ages. I mean, except for my blog, which will be held up as a rare example of prescience and widsom.
Yes, Bill. You're right.Delete
Katy, I'm sure of it.Delete
This week's post was my depressed and unmarried middle-aged male saga. "Time will pass but things are never going to get any better for me until I die." I've heard people say it in various ways over the years, but I could never relate until recentlyDelete
Well. I don't even know what a flying buttress might be when it's at (your) home so I'm incapable of offering advice on this instance. But now is the time when a ragged white boy and a big black msn on a raft will see your house and rescue you, and take you off to a land where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pie.ReplyDelete
It could happen. Why not?
Flying buttresses are about all I remember from my European history classes. I won't tell you how many European history classes I took.Delete
I learned more about European history when I was studying Christian theology later on than I ever did in undergard...
I think some of the townspeople were jealous haters and launched your house into the ocean since they didn't possess the dedication and tenacity to work towards a wonderful dream like yours. Maybe they don't deserve to be in the company of great dreamers...ReplyDelete
The torches and pitchforks should have tipped me off. I'm way too trusting!Delete
"The logarithmic curve of depression waits for no one" - Pluto, dwarf planetReplyDelete
"Time Waits For No One"
Yes, star crossed in pleasure the stream flows on by
Yes, as we're sated in leisure, we watch it fly
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
Time can tear down a building or destroy a woman's face
Hours are like diamonds, don't let them waste
Time waits for no one, no favours has he
Time waits for no one, and he won't wait for me
Men, they build towers to their passing yes, to their fame everlasting
Here he comes chopping and reaping, hear him laugh at their cheating
And time waits for no man, and it won't wait for me
Yes, time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
Drink in your summer, gather your corn
The dreams of the night time will vanish by dawn
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
No no no, not for me...
I have never heard that Stones song before. I don't know much from the Stones between Exile and Undercover.Delete
Sorry about the weal comment - this post came at a bad time...Delete
It really hit home
You never have to apologize for a comment. And next week's post won't be such a bummer. I hope. Two weeks of feeling like this would be bad.Delete
Great analogy for life. I like it.ReplyDelete
I hope it's not everybody's life. Some people keep having things to look forward to, right?Delete
This was wonderful and sad. Wonderfully sad. As the eternal optimist, I'd like to think of it like this: "You think this castle is great? You should see my next castle. Bottom of the ocean! Floating buttresses! Atlantis - watch out!"ReplyDelete
Pfshaw. Opitimism is a crutch for people who refuse to drink themselves to sleep every night.Delete
Yes, isn't that the problem of life. We set our goals and once we achieve them...What am I doing? Why am I restating your metaphor? Or is it a simile? Which one uses "like/as"? Why won't I look things up before I comment? What is this growth on my--no, never mind, that was a leach.ReplyDelete
I think you're rubbing off on me because I wrote something that'll post tomorrow that really, after I wrote it, reminded me of your style. Sue me if you want you will get all of my fortune which consists of dirty clothes and expired tea. (Is "Dirty Clothes and Expired Tea" a David Sedaris book?)
Once you have mastered my convoluted writing style, my work on Earth will be done.Delete
I would like the style to be referred to as "Andersic."
This may be the best You've written of what I've read. That Pynchon puke should be so lucky. I'll mourn your flying buttresses all day as I'm considering setting my own house adrift.ReplyDelete
Ha! Thank you. I didn't require 2000 pages to say this, either, unlike some reclusive novelists I could name.Delete
Now does this have anything to do with the reported fact that you moved to a different home in recent weeks? That would have explained the anxiety with your literal house, and with the metaphoric uncertainty of your future due to the loss of familiar surroundings.ReplyDelete
Just last Friday I ordered 850 feet of galvanized W6x12# steel beams, for I hope to be the last major renovation on this old house that I have fixed up from top to bottom over the past few years. Recent floods made it necessary for me to rebuild 100 feet of a 20 feet tall embankment right by the edge of my deck. My very real house will soon slide down this collapsed creek bank if I don't fix this right away.
I also repaired a loose elbow in the 1" primary sprinkler line, that was apparently poorly cemented together at 40 years ago. It took me a week to dig it out, and five changes of cloth to finish this job in this summer heat and humidity.
Things falling apart is the norm, we therefore work day and night to keep things together, while we raise children to keep up the fight. I in fact look forward to the next house I would buy and fix up, hopefully as my forever home that would be perfectly situated, designed, built, and occupied.
I don't know why I bothered approving this comment, as you're just going to come back around and end up deleting it anyway.Delete
So how is your new home? Is it on wheels this time, or held up by balloons? Since you had a hot tub on your roof last time, does this one have a grotto in the basement instead?Delete
More importantly, are its windows made of tempered glass, so that next time when you get frustrated that your new friend didn't like the fact that you had just lied to him about the floor in your home, the glass won't cut your hand as you punch through the windows?
The Flying Buttress is a basket ball move I use to get under the rim...It only works when we play shirts vs skins, and I am the sweaty skin...ReplyDelete
In all seriousness the ebb and flow of life does take you on a journey. Not that I want to go on one, but all the same it still takes you..great post as always.
I think that Alabama used to have a team named after that move. The Mobile Flying Buttresses were not a popular team.Delete
Misery loves company , so thoroughly enjoyed it.ReplyDelete
Hi, BadDog! I am glad you could share in the misery.Delete
You don't fool me for a second, Katy. This was a brilliant analogy of the consequences of global climate change run amok. We built our paradise by the shore, confident that it will be ever expanding and all the more wondrous come the 'morrow, never noticing that the shore line is crumbling away, inch by inch, hour by hour.ReplyDelete
And then suddenly we look down at our work and find that we're no longer in paradise on the shore, but asshole deep in a rising tide...
My advice to you is have your flying buttresses shipped to Appalachia, and put in your change of address form while the USPS is still functioning.
Brilliant, all the same. Again. Dammit.
I keep joking that I'm going to buy cheap tundra in northern Canada. In 30 years, my kids will inherit prime land in what is by then Canada's bread basket.Delete
The music is still good. Perhaps it's just a delayed hangover from blue eyed Ellen. I wouldn't make to much of it until the house actually sinks. You're probably just day streaming.ReplyDelete
I was going to call the post "Not Dark Yet," but the thing is, the number of page views I get apppears to be directly tied to how interesting the title sounds. I'll get twice the page views this way.Delete
I read this before I had the dream I wrote about on my blog, so maybe there's a connection? If so, thanks for influencing my subconscious; I believe it's in good hands.ReplyDelete
Hey, wouldn't that be cool?Delete
I am so jealous of people who remember their dreams.
New house is not yet agreeing with you tonight? A can of WD40 in the hands of someone with no fear of what's in the attic would solve this problem for you. So do you have a good man to call on at this time of the night, to chase such demons away?ReplyDelete
There was a four-feet-long freshly shed snake skin in my garage on Sunday morning, right at the foot of the steps. She apparently came in when she needed shelter on the night before, somewhere she knew it would be safe. But on the morning after, she was gone, seemingly into the wall next to the garage door.
Does Tarab still haunt you at night? Maybe it followed you to your new home, and maybe it is trying to get into your attic through the turbine slats. A can of WD40 is also flammable, that no demon can survive. But are you now, after so many years, brave enough to slay all your demons at night?
Old house. I just moved back into my place after several months staying with my ex and the kids so I could help nurse her back to health.Delete
I knew a Buttress , she was a dominatrix with a specialty . Don't think she could fly though .ReplyDelete
The flying ones cost a lot more per hour.Delete
Is this really a metaphor for your house having foundation problems?ReplyDelete
PS - Rumors of my death were only slightly exaggerated.
If you can't figure this metaphor out, you'd better steer clear of "How to Build a Horse."Delete
And I always worry when you disappear off the face of the net. But since I have no way of contacting you other than this and none of my contacts appears to be in contact with you, I have to trust that, like some cat I've dropped out in the country, you'll come wandering back eventually.