My Great Adventure

Well, it wasn’t much of an adventure, truth be told. Yesterday, the carpets and tile in my father’s house were cleaned, and the chemicals nauseated me and made my sinuses feel as if they were going to explode. I considered going to spend the night on a friend’s couch, but if I left the house, I’d have to close it up, and the chemicals would have no way of dissipating. So I spent the night in the garage.

It seems bizarre, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t  really. After all, my brother camped out in the garage for a year, and besides, almost everything I own is stored in the garage.

I used the cushions from my father’s couch to make myself a pallet, used my lamp. bedside table and extra pillows that were already in the garage to make myself a little nest. It all seemed weirdly normal, except for the expanse of the space. The garage is approximately 900 square feet, more than some of the apartments I’ve rented.

The only real adventure came at 4:30 in the morning when the smoke alarm on the other side of the door started chirping. Since there was no way to escape the sound, I had to get up to replace the battery. Good thing my mother’s step stool is still here, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to reach the alarm. (At least that’s what I thought then. If it hadn’t been 4:30 in the morning, I would have remembered what I’ve done in the past, make my own step stool using three different sizes of stools, but I’m not that swift when I’m half asleep.)

Oddly, I felt good today. Light. Free. I wonder if sleeping where my alcoholic schizophrenic brother did expiated some of the guilt I still feel about the way I treated him. (Not that I treated him badly, but it’s almost impossible to keep one’s equanimity in the face of abusive mental illness, and it bothers me that I couldn’t.) Or perhaps it had to do with lessening the ties to my status quo, on the first step toward a more creative way of living. Or maybe . . . oh, heck. What difference does it make. All I know is I’m smiling as I type this.

I’d planned to sleep in the garage again tonight since the chemicals still seem strong, but the exterminators came and sprayed today. The stuff they use is made from chrysanthemums, which is poisonous to insects but safe for humans. It’s supposed to be odor free, but the whole place smells like funeral flowers — sickeningly cloying.

So, I’ll try to sleep in my room with the windows open, and if there’s still a problem with smell, I’ll go outside and sleep on the patio. Or in my car. Or somewhere.

I hope you know I’m merely chronicling my life and not whining. I am aware of how very lucky I am. Despite the comsmileyplications of getting my father’s house cleared out and cleaned up so it can be put on the market, I still have a comfortable and safe place to stay, and for now I have money enough for my needs and current indulgence (dancing!). I’m mostly healthy with a strong, pain-free back, and have the energy to do what I need/want to do. I have two feet that work just fine except in ballet class. (“Point your toes, Pat!”) I can see perfectly as long as I have the proper eyewear — I can’t see the computer screen with my bifocals but luckily, I have my old reading glasses. Can’t see the television screen with either of those glasses, but luckily I still have my pre-bifocal glasses that seem to be the perfect ones for that activity. Even luckier, I have plenty of movies to watch via VCR so if I need a break from life, I don’t have to watch television programming.

And luckiest of all, although it panics me at times, I have a blank future with no responsibilities and no ties. (Well, no ties except dance class of course. And friends.) Mostly I have possibilities, as yet unknown opportunities, and more “great” adventures.

I actually sound optimistic, don’t I? I told you I felt good today.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.