My brother Tom took this shot of me up in our attic at 411. I'd cut my waist-length hair short early in 1976, after a man I loved was killed in a motorcycle accident. It must have been taken not long after that. That summer, I was to depart to New Orleans to begin my studies at the Tulane School of Social Work.
Each trip home we find a "different" 411. At Thanksgiving things were being organized for the Estate Sale. At Christmas, we found "spaces" amidst a lot of things that still remained. I could still sleep on the green velvet sofa, enjoy Sunday night "In the Heat of the Night" marathons, and cook in the kitchen.
With the auction in January, 411 was emptied. Remembering how I felt upon the Christmas arrival, I avoided going at first. I tried to prepare myself. But, I was interestingly surprised. Strangely, it was as if the house of 43 years ago was welcoming me back. Instead of missing, I soaked up its stark, clean, unadorned natural beauty that screamed: "here I am!"
I wandered from room to room and floor to floor. Memories flowed freely and unobstructed by barriers of any kind. I saw and felt things that I'd never noticed before.
Aside from the porches, attic, yard and gardens; the living room was my favorite room. I loved the fireplace and especially all of the book shelves. It wasn't unusual for me to ponder what I would do with this room "if it were mine." There were moments during that fateful fall of 2014, when I actually thought maybe I should find a way to make it so. It was possible, but I already know what it's like to juggle more than one piece of property on a limited budget. This beautiful baby needs someone with a healthy checkbook to love it, live in it, and breathe new life and make new memories. We did. It's someone else's turn now.
Join me on a little wander from the living room to:
The Butler Pantry and Dining Room
Back to the Foyer and Up the Stairs to the Second Floor
Up to the Attic, and...
...on the way back down, I discovered a charcoal drawing of me that I had done by an artist in Jackson Square one year as a Christmas present for Mom and Dad. I knew I was in trouble when the artist said: "You do know that this is the artist's 'interpretation' of your likeness?" I confess: I hated it. But, I gave it to Mom and Dad anyway. There it was again-staring me in the face. I had to smile. Even in all that emptiness and space; I'm still there.