Writing about art
Britney Spears still hangs on the bedroom wall of my boyfriend’s childhood bedroom.  Even after the boys finally and permanently moved out of the house, it took their mom until her retirement to strip down football posters, empty the shelves of t-ball trophies, and dress the faded walls with a coat of new paint.  Legos and board games went into the closet for fingers-crossed future grandchildren, and the only concession that remained was that Britney stayed on the wall.

Lest we throw stones whilst living in glass houses, my own parents’ home hasn’t had a real update in over twenty years.  Mini renovations and purges have speckled the last few decades - when I moved back to Dallas and systematically emptied each room, when they updated the counter tops in the kitchen days before Thanksgiving.  With my mom’s heart surgery a few years ago, even the annual airing of out-of-season clothes ground to a halt.

Particularly in our old bedrooms, there is a stillness in the air, like someone took a breath and held it.  There isn’t a hamster, faintly scrabbling away in the corner, anymore and the air smells neutral and dead, free of the unguents and sprays that we used as teenage girls.  The doors are now flung wide open, rarely closed, and creak when they swing.  A warren of dust bunnies live under my sister’s old twin bed, as do faded college syllabuses, shoe boxes of old ticket stubs, and spare change carefully squirreled away.  Foxtrot comic books and stuffed toys line her bookshelves, and the room sits vacant except for her visits home twice a year.

Instead of using the extra bedrooms for storage, stuff - because there’s no better word for it - encroaches on my parents’ bedroom.  Filing cabinets, my old desk, dusty yoga mats, and at one time three vacuums.  I’m afraid that my parents will eventually disappear between the piles of linens - towels, bed sheets, extra pillows, and comforters.  If you’re not careful grabbing a hand towel out of the linen closet, you could be buried under an avalanche of them.

Ashamedly, the idea of re-purposing and reorganizing the house for my parents was not mine but B’s.  There’s no reason they should live in a museum, half of the things belonging to those of us who no longer live there.  We are like the children of Christmas past, and you must hold on to our Lisa Frank sticker collections and moldy retainers.

So we collectively put our heads together.  We diagrammed, discussed, and debated.  A home office for dad, not just a bedroom with a folding table in the corner.  Another real guest bedroom with an adult-sized bed for adult-sized visitors.  New flooring of some sort, the maroon carpet is over 30 years old and fraying at the edges.  They’ll keep the upright piano, god knows why, as they don’t play.  It’s a glorified shelf for Alexa and greeting cards.

We are starting small, emptying out boxes of tangled electronic cables and floppy disks that are useless, even as coasters.  I sit for an hour and shred five years worth of old credit card and bank statements.  The paper shredder quits on me after 15 minutes so I sit on the floor and tear with my fingers.  Dad and I sort, shred, and listen to the Selected Shorts podcast.  Two hours later, there are three black garbage bags full of things to be tossed.  We’re pecking away at the shrine to the two children who used to live in this house to make it work for the two parents left in it.