Welp, there goes my plans to simplify my life by getting rid of 90% of my belongings. Which, actually I’m happy with. Because I’ll still get rid of most of it, but now I’ll have time to go through my things and decide at my leisure what stays and what goes. As it was, I felt like I was on an episode of “Tiny House Nation,” and big decisions would need to be made within the span of an afternoon for what’s important enough to keep. The pressure was getting to me.
I guess I should explain what I’m talking about. So, all my stuff (everything that’s not in my bedroom) is in storage at my stepdad’s house—my stepdad who I may as well call my dad—and I went down to North Carolina to get it this week. It’s been in storage for three years now, since my ex-husband and I split and I moved into the spare bedroom of my sponsor’s house, then into a shared house with five other people, and now in a townhouse with another girl.
Trying to figure out who would help me with this monumental task of driving nine hours to NC, loading up a moving truck, then driving nine hours back… well, it’s not something I wanted to ask of someone. My friend most likely to do it does everything for me all the time so I really just did not want to ask. And now my other new friend already does everything for me all the time too, so I didn’t want to ask him either. No way am I asking Jay, especially after he said he was the daddy in his last relationship, and she was like his teenager, and those were not compliments. And even more especially since Steven took on extra responsibility in our relationship of both bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan, because he supposedly wanted to, then came back and said I never did anything—nope. Not falling into that trap again with him or anyone else. So I decided I’d just get the damn stuff my own damn self.
Daddy Goodman, my stepfather’s new pseudonym, was hell bent on me getting my stuff out of there asap, and understandably so. Mom died nine months ago, he has money tied up in several different properties, and he can no longer afford to keep up with it all. He needs to move into a smaller space, get rid of most of his stuff, put it all on one property, and simplify his life.
It can’t be easy living in the house that he built with my mom, where her pictures are everywhere, pictures of her children and grandchildren, her owl trinkets all over the house, her toiletries by the side of the bathtub as if she’s coming back any day now, like she’s just away visiting my sister and her kids. Mom’s books line the shelves: Jeannette Walls, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, Frank McCourt, Toni Morrison, Mark Twain, Lorrie Moore, Jon Krakauer. The list goes on. A lot of beautiful books that I wish I could keep, but I don’t have room for. I took just the ones that I’d gotten signed for her, books from Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, and Mary Karr. I don’t know why I didn’t get books signed by Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris or Hollis Gillespie for her as many times as I’ve seen them, and as much as I love them. I sure got them for myself. These are all writers I was into 10 and 20 years ago. I don’t even read that much anymore, other than self-help books or books on spirituality and now books on nutrition and health. I should read more. I have no idea what writers are even getting published right now.
Anyway, when Daddy Goodman found out my plan was just to take what I wanted and leave the rest, he turned it over in his head this way and that, and finally woke up the next morning with the idea that I’d drive his 99 Chevrolet Suburban back to Maryland with as much as we could fit into it and then I can come back for the rest in a few weeks.
I’ll stop here for a minute and give a quick description of Daddy Goodman. Just imagine Bill Murray (looks and mannerisms) with a Southern accent. Daddy Goodman is from Kansas, and I guess they have Southern accents out there, because that’s what he has. Or a country accent anyway. He worked for the railroad all his life, and he invested money in the stock market and did well for himself.
When I say that he came up with the idea, I mean he offered lots of different suggestions. Nothing was set in stone. Like at one point, when we were loading the Suburban and he was supervising the way in which I put boxes into the truck, I asked, “Like that? Is that how you want me to put the box in here?” He’d been instructing me. See, it’s like a game of Tetris, or a puzzle, and you have to fit the boxes into the vehicle as tightly as possible like puzzle pieces. If the box doesn’t fit sideways, turn it longways, or try another box.
It’s uncanny how similar to my father Daddy Goodman is. Giving someone else instructions on how to put a box into a truck? That’s something my dad would do. If my father had not become alcoholic, and didn’t have Asperger’s or whatever it is that makes him emotionally unavailable—alcoholism—he’d be Daddy Goodman.
But here’s the difference. When I asked Daddy Goodman how best to put the box into the truck, “Is that the way you want me to do it?” I’d asked him, he said, “Now hold on a minute here. There ain’t no asking. This is not me telling you what to do. We’re having a conversation here. I’m saying you just try it different ways and see what works best.” Kind of like, he’s figuring this out too, we’re figuring this out together.
That is not how Walter would’ve approached it. Walter (my father) would’ve gotten so annoyed with me already by now. Didn’t everyone know how to put a stupid box in the damn truck? I mean, common sense would’ve told you that it goes like this, and not like that. You put the heavy ones on bottom and towards the front, and I don’t know why or how you weren’t born with this information already grilled into your head.
Daddy Goodman also had me drive the Suburban from his house to the storage space where my stuff was, on the winding, narrow roads in the mountains, so that I could get the feel of it since I’ll be driving this monster back to MD.
“Ideally you’d have your hands at 10 and 2,” he’d said, and I thought of Walter. That’s exactly what he’d have said, except he might have added that everyone in the world knew that.
“Now you’re driving it like…” he couldn’t think of how to articulate it, so he demonstrated someone who looked like Granny from the “Beverly Hillbillies,” jerking the steering wheel all over the place.
“Oh, you mean like Granny from the ‘Beverly Hillbillies?’” I asked him.
He concurred, so I relaxed my hands a bit, wishing they were down at the bottom of the steering wheel where I usually keep them, but I am a good instruction-follower in front of the parents.
But Daddy Goodman never got upset. He never laughed at me. Walter would’ve gone on about oh Lord this and oh Lord that, and you need a man to come help you with all this stuff, and don’t wreck the truck, etc.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my dad, and I feel guilty writing this, because he means well, and I’m used to him acting like that. And it can be quite funny when he acts that way, especially when it’s not directed towards me. And he has done a whole lot better than his abusive father. And he can’t really help it. He doesn’t know what to do.
I’m just so glad we had Mom.
And I’m glad she met Daddy Goodman too. Last night he said to me, “Well I sure love your mom.”
And I told him, “Well she sure loved you. More than any of the other men she married. Or dated.”
Third time’s the charm, we decided.
I sure hope so.
I’ll leave you with the “Beverly Hillbillies,” which my sisters and I watched when we were growing up in the 80’s. The show came out in 1962, but they played re-runs of it on TBS–I don’t know if that a television station anymore. I couldn’t find just a short clip of Granny driving, but I found this episode, where you can get an idea of her driving around 15:04. My driving was a bit more like how Jethro’s is in the opening credits, the way he holds his hands on the steering wheel—but it’s fun to watch Granny drive. She reminds me of my Nanny, my mom’s mom who drove a 1971 beige Ford Maverick (scroll down to see a picture of this sweet car that was every redneck teenage boy’s dream back then) with a big black stripe down the center, but I’ll tell you about her some other time.
To give credit where it’s due, I found this picture on this blog–it costs a lot more now than Nanny paid for hers, that’s for sure.