The Last of Him Is Finally Gone
My garage was the last of his domain.
In the summer of 2010, my boyfriend moved into my house. I had owned it for three years before he came to live there. I bought my house as an emotional decision following my divorce from my first husband.
It was a horrible financial decision, buying this house. The market had hit a peak but was on the verge of collapse. By mid-2010, we were in a full real estate collapse.
My boyfriend and I were getting serious and having two homes made no sense. This is how a multitude of bad decisions happen.
We let his condo go. He packed up everything and it went in the garage. Then we sorted it out. Well, we sorted some of it out. The rest got shoved all over the garage.
Things we once thought we were certain we needed got pushed aside to collect dust. Pretty much how our marriage ended up.
Within eight years, he moved in, we got engaged, got married, got divorced and he moved back to Iowa. The garage was always a bone of contention. All I wanted him to do was clean it. Just clean it.
Before he moved back home, I went on vacation for four days. I asked him to go through everything and take what was his. Whatever he wanted in there, just take it. If he didn’t want it, get rid of it.
When I got home, my heart sank. It looked the same. He grabbed a few things and left. He even left his kayak.
It’s been nine months since he moved home. My car still does not live in my garage.
I don’t know why I haven’t gone in there. It’s just overwhelming. It’s dirty. It’s a reminder of all the times I nagged him when we were married and after we divorced to please please please please just clean out the garage.
It’s the last of him.
I’ve gone almost all winter getting into a cold car in the morning in avoidance of the inevitable. Today, I stopped avoiding it. Today, I sucked it up. I grabbed a beer and some Sturgill Simpson and just did it.
Seven containers of Turtle Wax. Two stacks of writable CDs. Two rusted old drills. A circular saw I already replaced. 823 nails, screws and bolts.
I threw a lot away. If it hadn’t been touched in a year, I didn’t need it. What that meant was that if it was his, it was gone.
Seven RCA cables. A random Bose speaker. A broken floor lamp. Enough spare lumber to build a tree fort. Six pairs of garden gloves.
When I was done and had swept the last of the of the dust into the pan, there was more than enough room for my car. It looked clean. It looked like a garage. I cried.
I don’t know why I cried. Perhaps it was relief. Perhaps it was achievement. Perhaps it was a weird closure. It was as though I had reclaimed a space that had been so very much his, even long after he’d gone.
I rolled my car in and just stared at it in its proper space. It won’t be cold in the morning when I get in. It looked right in there. It looked home. Its home. My home.