Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Who Will Flowers Bloom For At A Foreclosed House?
Photos By John Hoff
A dear friend of mine...a fine human being, a good neighbor, an excellent cook, a lover of animals...is losing her home to foreclosure. Despite all the talk of various kinds of help available, there is no help for her. All the talk of programs and assistance from the government is pretty much bulls***t, as far as she can tell.
Piece by piece, she deals with her soon-to-be-vacant house. Some candles went to a mutual friend who is crazy about candles. Plants in the yard will be "fostered" by other neighbors, but not all the plants. Some of the plants my friend is leaving, wanting the yard to remain pretty for whoever gets the house next. But who will that be?
"Who will those flowers bloom for?" she asked me, as we sat on the steps, my son inside the house playing on my computer, as he so often does.
I answered that...
...flowers do not bloom for particular individuals, but for God. They bloom because that's what God has flowers do, not because it is the will of the owner of a particular house. The flowers will bloom for God, no matter who owns the house, and we can take comfort in that fact. All is right in heaven. There is purpose and meaning to our tribulations, even if these things are not readily apparent.
In the flower bed are decorative onions. I've informed my friend that (like decorative cabbage) decorative onions are an affront to God, and we should pluck up the onions and grill them to savory perfection. This thought horrifies her, so I let it drop, but the other day the onions were drooping in an advanced state of maturity. My friend pointed out their droopiness. In my mind, I could hear a hot skillet sizzling. Why give up the yard, I thought? EAT THE YARD. If you eat something, it's yours forever. It becomes part of your essence.
Therefore...eat the yard.
As the foreclosure process moves to its ultimate conclusion--yet another vacant house in a neighborhood with too many vacant houses, already--endless arrangements are made for the particular items in the home, and I think how this same painful process is repeated a hundred times, a thousand times, a few thousand times all over North Minneapolis. Some stuff goes here, some goes there, some just gets thrown away. Some stuff gets stored one place, some another, but plenty of it ends up on Craigs List. The other day I helped to carry an entertainment center to a truck. I thought it must be hard to part with it, but my friend told me not really...it had sat in the garage for SEVEN YEARS.
I asked some questions of the man who came to get the entertainment center. Did he have a wife? Children?
Yes, he had children who were grown, he said. Now he had grandchildren. I imagined the grandchildren watching Saturday morning cartoons, arrayed around the entertainment center, as we secured it in place on the truck trailer.
The emotion of these moments of loss and letting go floats over North Minneapolis like a cloud of incense, the raw feelings hang in low grassy spots like a morning fog.
Yes, I see a neighborhood being reborn. I see good coming of all the bad. But up close and personal, when you have to figure out whether to take the precious antique cobblestones with, or leave the stones behind and hope the new owner will appreciate their history...it's hard to have perspective, objectivity, a sunny outlook in the midst of deep personal pain.
Where does all that emotion go? How will it be harnessed, sublimated? My dear friend talks of new life goals, new paths. Without a mortgage to pay, living with a friend, certain doors of opportunity will open wide. And yet...all is unsettled, packed away in boxes, neatly stacked but not entirely orderly on the inside, not by a long shot.
I can't help but think of the Battle of Seattle in 1999 during the World Trade Organization conference, and how black clad anarchists took out their raw feelings on the windows of, for example, banks.
But my friend believes in law and order. She would never do something like that.
I believe in law and order too. Mostly.
But these are the moments when part of me wants to grab a crowbar and smash, smash, smash, smash....