I just came in from stapling some plastic sheeting on my back wall. I’m nailing it over the two-year-old tarpaper that isn’t keeping the water out next to the kitchen door. In some places it’s hard to find a surface for the staples because the wood underneath is crumbling away from rot.
I’m glad two sides of the house look good now, ’cause anybody seeing those back walls first would surely be thinking they’d walked onto the set of Winter’s Bone.
“I’m better than this,” I want the world (e.g. UPS drivers and my immediate neighbors, but not the tax assessor) to know. “Really. I’ve got class.”
Then I turn and look at my Gorilla-taped car … and I wonder.
What’s stranger is that I like it this way. Well, except for the rot.
My family wasn’t white trash. But we knew white trash and knew ourselves to make better choices. “Lace curtain Irish” would have applied (though my American mongrel mother wouldn’t have accepted that term). We were tract-house dwelling, factory- and switchboard-working, “buy it on sale and still don’t tell your father how much it cost” people.
Be we had some quality, you know. Mama didn’t produce no dummies, but kids who went on to get multiple college degrees and move up in the world. Or … erm, choose not to get any college degrees and to plummet determinedly down in the world, but do so for sterlingly well-thought-out philosophical reasons.* Mama also didn’t produce anybody without taste. We wrote. We drew. We created. Our minds could snap like angry turtles when we put them to it.
And I ended up here.
I’m really glad I bought that 100-foot length of very heavy-duty plastic sheeting. It’s already gotten me through two winters of damaged walls, unheated rooms, construction dust, and leaks. Here’s to one more. Totally without leaks this time.
* Or as the family liked to describe my philosophical choices in their typically nuanced manner: “What the hell’s wrong with you? You could have done something with your life!”