Trespass

We lived in a two-story, four-bedroom house on a quiet suburban street for the formative years of my life, from age four to 18. I can still picture where my father kept his pipe cleaners and dental bridge, his flight suit and the three Japanese netsuke. These things were kept downstairs in cabinets and closets and on a windowsill. But up the stairs and around the corner, the first door on the right, was his bedroom, the center of our lives. I remember the details like an art historian can recount a painting. I spent a lot of time snooping as a child. Maybe I wanted to know him better. I think I wanted his secrets.

In my mind tonight, I track my voyeuristic steps and inventory the scene: the pipe smoke lingers like a thin layer of fog.  Imagine that I am ten. In the room’s center is an enormous bed, barely covered in thin blankets, and above it is his expressionistic painting of an airplane silhouetted against a flaming red sunset.

On the dresser are coins, keys, matches, nail clippers, stray buttons. Pipes lined up on a wooden stand, smelling of vanilla tobacco.  An artifact, a stone shaped with a groove in the middle, designed to fit one’s hand, and a dull but narrowed end for clubbing things. I pick it up and pretend to clobber a coconut or mash corn. Someone gave it to him and he said it was Paleolithic. I am skeptical. Another stone, perfectly round, found on the beach of Lake Michigan, found with me as we walked along the shore.

Tired suits, shirts, pants on hangers stuff the closet. On the floor, the shoeshine box with its pungent bottle of black polish and stained soft cloth. Brown shoes, black shoes (some tasseled), a pair of loafers. (If I squeeze my eyes hard, I can picture my mother’s delicate, arched heels alongside my dad’s plain oxfords.  How they brightened this dark space.) A wooden box, maybe 2’ x 1’, with small, lidded chambers and pearly knobs – most compartments are empty; some contain business cards from the ‘50s, my grandfather’s death notice, a prayer card, a cross. I love this box with its little boxes. The wood is thin and fragile and I want to put precious things in each private square. I sneak into the closet when he is away just so I can lift the box lids, one at a time.

The bathroom: shaving cream, Old Spice aftershave, all the soaps we gave him for Christmas, toothpaste, toothbrush. I am mystified by the weathered Dopp kit with its stiff, folded flaps that spring open and reveal strange toiletries.  I spy the condoms, wrapped up in packaging, and think they are something for his stomach because everywhere on the counter are Rolaids, the jar of Metamucil and the accompanying grit-covered glass, fiber this and that, Pepto Bimol. It is a lonely, anxious bathroom.

Sunlight only reaches my father’s bedroom during winter when the leaves are gone from the walnut and black cherry trees. Here we will play games of Go Fish on the bed while watching Laugh-in on the small television set. When he is home, we are all here, playing cards on the bed. The five of us kids, with uncombed hair and skinned knees, and laughter. My father’s only sanctuary is trespassed by love.

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18 Comments Trespass

  1. Jennifer G. Knoblock January 22, 2015 at 7:09 am

    “trespassed by love” <3 Wonderful how you've sketched the person and hinted at various relaionships and histories through the visual details.

    Reply
    1. Meg February 4, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks, Jennifer! Sorry for the delayed response…haven’t been to my blog enough. Always grateful for your kind words.

      Reply
  2. MamaMickTerry January 22, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I loved this, Meg! In so many ways. I could smell the pipe tobacco, shoe polish, and Old Spice…
    Just letting you know that I’m here and “trespass” in your space even on days you don’t know I’m around.
    Sending you hugs and love. xoxoxo

    Reply
    1. Meg February 4, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      You are so kind to keep reading, Michelle! I do appreciate it and do miss you dearly. xo

      Reply
  3. Christine January 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I’m a daddy’s girl, so this story was particularly meaningful to me. This is gorgeous and lush and lovely and makes me wish I was one of your sisters.

    Reply
    1. Meg February 4, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      You are one of my sisters, Christine. <3

      Reply
      1. Christine February 5, 2015 at 1:06 am

        <3

        Reply
  4. Jenny P January 22, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    every word makes something happen: a smell, a sound, a feeling. the writing here is so lush. a gorgeous piece, meg. filled with so much love.

    Reply
    1. Meg February 4, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks so much, Jenny P. You know I’m a big fan of your writing…thankful for you taking time to read mine.

      Reply
  5. Christy Birmingham January 22, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Your description of the home and your dad’s items within it was so vividly done. I really got caught up in the writing!

    Reply
    1. Meg February 4, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Thank you, Christy! My apologies for this delayed response. Work has kept me from the bloggy world. So glad you enjoyed this.

      Reply
  6. Lyzardly (@lyzardly) January 22, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Funny, my husband and I were just talking last night about whether or not we will let our kids into our room as they get older. I’ll have to share this with him and see what he thinks about letting them “trespass.” 🙂

    Reply
    1. Meg February 4, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Oh, please do! Thanks for reading and commenting. Very grateful.

      Reply
  7. Stacie January 23, 2015 at 9:12 am

    This is beautiful, Meg. I was having trouble commenting last night (not sure why) but hope this goes through this am!

    Reply
    1. Meg February 4, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks, Stacie, darlin’. Always happy to see your comments. Makes me feel loved. xo

      Reply
  8. Silverleaf January 24, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Touching and lovely, Meg! This reminds me of my grandfather’s desk fu of drawers and his personality, too. Beautiful memories you’ve shared here 🙂 xo

    Reply
    1. Meg February 4, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      I miss our little comment/email chats and feel bad that we haven’t had as many lately, Silver. Please know how much your words mean to me. <3

      Reply
      1. Silverleaf February 5, 2015 at 9:56 am

        I miss chatting too, though I feel like you’re never far away when I see all your lovely photos. I hope you know I feel the same about the lovely, thoughtful comments you leave for me! xo and <3

        Reply

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