HOME OF MY HEART
Thirty-six years and more in one house have to count for something. Here is where I went hiking in the woods across the street, spotted pheasants, was visited by raccoons, saw a mountain lion, and socialized with the neighbors’ cats and dogs.
The view across the Bay was another privilege. On a clear evening I could see the fireworks at Crissy Field in San Francisco, and I watched ships come in seemingly escorted by sailboats on blue water. My neighbors have been friends; we celebrated with block parties and our Neighborhood Association with its Nextdoor.com network endeavored to protect us from crime.
There was love in this house. The walls might tell you so.
I had completed writing the book and went about placing it with a publisher. After about three months of sending it around I hit at last, at Marron in NYC. The said the story charmed them, the heroine most sympatica — I hurried ahead of their letter and found the inevitable disclaimers. It seemed they wanted Cole to be African-Brazilian and Linden to be African-American, and they would consider publication on receipt of the modifications.
It wasn’t that simple. One cannot simply change the racial make-up of characters in a book with strokes of the keyboard. There is family to consider, life’s experiences, thoughts, insights and all the mental array that goes into building a person.
Well, I attacked the task, burying my head and being aware that Renato was feeding me between morning and dusk. Anxiously he brought me cooling drinks. My computer called it quits and we bought another one. Finally, finally, I was done. I packed the manuscript off and waited. The answer did not require much time to reach me. Marron Publishing had gone out of business.
It looks as though the closet is going to be her permanent hiding place. She does come out when I call, but I get that I have to have a strong reason to do so, such as mealtimes. I had been wondering where she would go whenever the housekeeper came but yesterday there was no doubt for Loaner. She retreated to the closet.
There are plenty of pets in the building, all under 30 lbs in weight, as the rule allows. There is one tiny French poodle named Pierre, who frisks about in the hall while waiting, with his very tall hooman, for the elevator. Another hooman has a little carriage for her dog who has arthritis. They go outside with the dog riding in the carriage.
These are the poignant sights that one encounters in this building; not least, the fact that Loaner has lost the sight in her right eye and is 14 years old.
Loaner, as expected, took the move to these new digs hard. She is hiding in the closet for lack of any other private places. At least she comes out to eat, though not very much. At night she climbs onto my stomach, ensuring that I toss about for hours before collapsing into sleep.
My Mac got connected only yesterday and there are a host of little things that don’t work including other distractions, like the bathroom sink being stopped up, dead power outlets, and masses of paper stuff that I felt I couldn’t do without.
The view across the street features a partial slice of Lake Merritt; the other side faces tall buildings. At night its lighted windows remind me of a thousand night lights, sort of comforting.
She has no idea what will befall her tomorrow. I will have to stuff her in the carrier and haul it, her litter box, and a carton of new litter to Lake Park, my new home. Her new home too, two rooms from a four-bedroom house. The bathroom is too tight to place the litter box there; there is a balcony, but I would have to keep the door ajar day and night.
It all feels so strange, as it is wont to be after 36 years in this house. I think at least 30 boxes were taken away to be discarded or donated. The doers of this deed is an outfit dedicated to senior relocations and by golly I couldn’t have done it without them.
Our little villa in Rio de Janeiro had a large wooden siding atop the front porch shaped like a crocodile — known to the neighborhood as “Casa de jacaré” — and I have no idea whose idea it was to put it up. But Renato and I enjoyed the semi-fame it brought us. But it is gone now, gone with the rest of the building and reduced to flinders. In its place is a multistory apartment building.
There was a marble staircase with a long, slithery carving of a python which served as the bannister. Brazil has a lot of wood, yes indeed. And overhanging the divide between living room and dining room was an intricate carving featuring more snakes. Snake-y theme, but home to us.
The parquet floor was exquisite, laid out in a fancy pattern in different shades of wood.
All of it gone.
My 14 year-old orange tabby, Loaner, is all discombobulated. She hates the changes in her home. The bed in her private bedroom, where she lolled at certain hours of the day, is gone. And my bed is higher and impossible for her to climb. I put a footstool at the side for her but she doesn’t, won’t, use it. Whenever I give her a boost up she lingers for only 30 seconds before jumping off.
What to do? How will she take to the new place, an apartment unit? The answer, of course, is that she will have to take to it, but I am worried.
The poor boobie doesn’t know what she is facing next month. Right now she is dozing on the rug near me. As far as she knows, nothing has changed here.