The Disappearance of Herself

Label on back of Chinese carpet that my parents shipped over from our flat in Cairo, Egypt

Inexorably, many signs that my mother once lived here are disappearing.

My father checked out long ago, dead for decades, even while alive; dead inside from the bitter realization that, appearances nonwithstanding, he was an alcoholic failure who made colossal mistakes at key decision points in his life.

I have spent this past week — when not bingeing on the Netflix series The Lørenskog Disappearance — relentlessly getting rid of every vestige of their past. I’ve put aside some things: some important papers, a few yellowing photographs, a valuable figurine or bibelot here and there.

But as for the rest, and by that I mean the 37 years that my parents lived here — the evidence that it ever happened is fast vanishing. Any sentimentality about this on my part is now erased. I pack the Subaru every day with one more load, and drive to the town recycling center. I feel nothing as I throw away my mother’s things. It’s over. She lived a very long time — far too long, in her own opinion, as her body became ravaged with the unendurable pain of lung cancer and liver disease and heart trouble — but now she suffers no more.

Yesterday, the real estate agent came by with a professional photographer named Duncan. I chatted with him briefly; he seemed unaware of the Macbeth association. And so it goes. The peasants assume the name of kings, and no one is the wiser.

My parents’ house goes on the market a week from Monday. By the time I leave next Thursday, there will be even less left of my parents’ legacy — not that anyone cares, but for me.

I shall always remember that, to my own dying day: no one really gives a shit about you. Not really. In the final analysis, all human relationships are simply transactional.

Only that, and nothing more.

I find this massively reductive conclusion provisonally liberating.



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