Sidetracked



The Bargaining Stages

Maudie’s house was a safe place. The little A-frame facing the Gulf on Bolivar Peninsula was more than a house filled with stuff. It was a home where we could all go despite our differences and dysfunction and be happy again.

My family built the beach house for Maudie and my late granddad when I was about three years old. I remember sitting on the newly built steps leading to the second floor, my eyes itching from the Pink Panther insulation. Not too long after the house was built and fashioned into a home, Papoo got sick. He spent the remainder of his life on a hospital bed in the living room with an amazing view of the water. And we adopted the Robin’s Nest, a beach house down the street, to make everything less scary for the time being.

The beach was just as important to me as the house. Papoo drove me up and down the beach one summer in Maudie’s Mercedes, scolding me for getting my muddy feet on the white leather interior. I dug in the sand, hopped over the waves, filled sand castle buckets with hermit crabs, listened to cousins crying from jelly fish stings, and ate plate upon plate of fried shrimp without worrying about fat. While the sun set over the ocean, we’d walk the stretch of beach in front of the house looking for sea glass. I mostly found newly broken bottles, handing shards of glass to my mom, only to watch her toss it back in the water. We’ll find it next Summer, she’d say. I’d always look at the house and find some family member standing on the deck waving back.

I got an urge to go crabbing on Bolivar last Spring, and rounded up my brother and sister to make the trip down. Everything was as it should be. Maudie assumed her usual position, crosslegged on the couch, a cigarette and glass of wine in hand and a jigsaw puzzle spread out before her on the coffee table. She showed us where the last storm had taken some of the shingles from her roof. Most of the trip was spent around the coffee table reminiscing. That is what we do.

None of us realized it would be the last time we saw the A-frame. Even as I sat in a hotel room in Pasadena, Ca, and watched Hurricane Ike make its way for my home state, I was filled with hope that the house would survive. My family has always talked about the storm that would someday devastate Crystal Beach, but I also thought about how one day I’d take my own children there and watch the collect hermit crabs and hop over waves, acquire a taste for salt, and fall asleep with the ocean breeze stroking their foreheads.

People are talking about how stupid the Galveston residents who stayed are, which makes me more angry. People risk their lives to protect their homes, to protect their safe places from monsters like Ike. I’m sad for those who can’t understand how strong a connection to a home can be. All weekend I thought about Ike picking up the A-frame, tearing it limb from limb and greedily swallowing up the remains. I thought about how I wanted all of us to be there to shield it.

The house is gone. I’ve scoured photos searching for it, only to find sandy soil where homes once stood. Maudie’s talking about going back and buying a new beach house. And I’ve got a pipe dream to build a new A-frame. People also talk about how stupid people are to go back.

They don’t know.

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Comments

  1. * Lauren says:

    I was was wondering about Maudie’s house. I’m sorry to hear about it. And Cheyenne. You’re right about the bad stuff all coming at once. How is your folks place in Houston?

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  2. * Rebekah says:

    My mom’s roof caved in in two spots, one spot is over her bed. Hopefully, insurance will cover that. I haven’t spoken to my dad since Saturday. He said a tree limb fell on their roof, but I haven’t heard the extent of the damage.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  3. * mike says:

    Maybe you should be selling short stories.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  4. * Rebekah says:

    Aw, shucks.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  5. * ~A says:

    You should write short stories and have someone else sell them for you.

    | Reply Posted 9 years ago
  6. * Paige says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother’s home. Even though its just bricks and wood, it’s still heartbreaking. I watched my cousins move to BR from NO after Katrina and they had to totally start over. . . in their 70s.

    | Reply Posted 9 years ago
  7. * ~A says:

    in rotation today: Medeski, Martin and Wood. Thanks, Paige.

    | Reply Posted 9 years ago
  8. * lorie says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your family’s losses and about your sweet dog, but this post is lovely and, I think, a fitting tribute to Maudie’s A-frame. I felt like I had spent summers there.

    | Reply Posted 9 years ago


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