We're all recovering from something .. you even need to recover from a hangnail. A death. A relationship, a bad meal, abuse, poor bedsheet linen thread counts, loss, zigging when we should have zagged.
Recently the incredibly unbalanced and scary downstairs tenant finally got evicted. He yelled at the real estate people that he was "GOING TO MURDER EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU." Real charmer of a guy - a woman hater, though he didn't mind me because I was very cordial and pleasant to him. He left behind the stench of a thousand hobos, his grubby couch, and a tattered Donald Trump newspaper article stuck to his wall with the headline "Grab them in the pussy." Unfortunately, he also left behind a whole extended family of mice. Who had nothing to gnaw and eat anymore so they scattered and migrated throughout the entire apartment block. One night I'm sitting in my living room and see this tiny face with beady eyes peering out at me from underneath my bookcases full of books that I haven't read.
I can barely tolerate rodents even though when I was a kid I had a pure white mouse as a pet who I named "Whiskers." Naturally Rocco subsequently named our new mouse "Kevin" and we all know that once you name an animal it makes it harder to kill it. 6am one morning Kevin woke me up by crinkling the half-eaten packet of corn chips I'd left next to my bed and when I looked over he's just there, munching away until I said "DUDE!' He scurried off. So I bought mouse traps for 99c. Baited them with peanut butter like the people of Facebook told me to. No dice. I baited them with BBQ Chazoos from Aldi but he just ate the Chazoos. Rocco kept telling me that Kevin *knew* we were trying to kill him, that Kevin was smart. I didn't want to kill Kevin! I wanted to catch him and let him go at Echo Point after declaring him the Winner of the 2017 First Annual Mouse Hunger Games. But Kevin grew bold. And bigger, from all the food.
So we go to the hardware store - the humane catch-and release traps were $59 - no. I'm not even shitting you when I say that the mousetraps on the market are unbelievable. There's electric shock traps, guillotine traps, traps that catch 30 mice at a time ugh. Finally we decided on this one:
In the end, Kevin outsmarted us at every turn and I'm sorry to say I've resorted to Ratsak. I KNOW it's a horrible way to die and I felt horrible leaving those pellets in a ceramic green dish underneath my bookcase. The pellets have all been eaten and I imagine Kevin inviting all of his friends up to my flat to share in all of the delicious poisonous Hor D'oeuvres. Or as we like to say in our family "Hoovers Doovers."
No sighting of Kevin since but I had to clean out my entire bookcase, office, paperwork, photos, diaries, ALL OF THE OBJECTS that have been following me around for many years. Going through photos taken over the past fifteen years was as painful and excruciating as it sounds. All the happy days, baby photos, pics of our houses being built, holidays. It took all day, I cried (a lot) .. you know at the end of a big cleanup you just go into a mode where you start chucking everything out? I threw out things I've been holding onto for my whole life. Entire diaries written throughout my twenties, my 80's jewellery boxes. Tore up a lot of photos because fuck some of those memories ... I even threw out my sons first teeth because would they want their first teeth one day? I don't really think so. You ever gone through your stuff and wondered if you got hit by a bus tomorrow and people had to go through your stuff they'd just chuck most of it out anyway because they wouldn't know the significant sentimental value of your things? I am a sentimental person but I need to move on from "the wreckage of our past" as they say. Filled up two huge otto bins of my stuff, all because of Kevin because he'd been crawling over everything and it revolted me.
One thing I found was a letter I wrote to my brother Cam dated June 1999. He was leaving home to go work in my cousins ski-shop in Cooma. Since Cam's death I've often thought about this letter (sentimental ugh) and never knew I kept a copy. Here's some excerpts:
Yeah. The letter went in the bin. It was an interesting read but I didn't even cry over it, for a lot of reasons. Although I am angry at him, this isn't the "anger" stage of grief (I believe there are no clear stages to grief.) There's a sense of clarity about a lot of things that happened before and after Cam took his own life. Hindsight, perspective, blame. Bad judgement calls. Carnage.
ANYWAY. I cleaned out most of the haunting remnants of my past and when we clear shit out like that it makes way for new things to enter and begin. Which is what's happening. And it's good, positive, rich stuff. So thank you to the murderous downstairs neighbour and a huge sorry to Kevin but also a thank you to that mouse for helping me really see that the past is in the past and there's no changing it unless we invent a time machine. I chucked out vases that reminded me of bunches of flowers long decomposed, love letters that will never be written again, shoes that reminded me of where I've walked, SO MANY irrelevant photos. I threw out an entire box of my stuff that I didn't even sort through. Living dangerously but I haven't touched that box in years. Obviously I didn't need what was in that last box.
Or did I? Because finally when bin night came around I pictured all of my things waiting there out on the kerb. Considered creeping outside in the dark and rummaging through the boxes to make sure I really didn't want whatever was in the boxes. But I didn't, and the next day when I heard the creaky garbage truck I thought well, there goes that. It felt good, and like that guy with the awful mis-spelt neck tattoo that regularly makes the rounds on the internet I have "No Ragrets."
New year, new day, new possibilities, new perspectives of looking at things, new parenting, new writing, new friends, new boundaries, new me, new everything. Everything. Except Aldi BBQ Chazoos. I love that shit.
The lyrics from this song have been stuck in my head since the clean-up. Women like Madonna also have no ragrets.