Most days, before I go pick up Alex at kindergarten, I swing by my former house to pick up my mail while I grab the various and sundries I’ve inadvertently left behind. I guess that’s the problem with moving while other people stay behind – you have the ability to leave your crap behind to be picked up at a later date, which makes you extraordinarily lazy, especially when one of the boxes contains nothing but bacon spam. I try to get this sort of thing done sans kids because it’s just easier that way, hence my 10:30 trips back to the House Formerly Known as Mine.

Tuesday morning found me there, bright and bleary, seeing if a) the mail had come and 2) trying to knock the two remaining neurons in my brain into functionality so that I could figure out what, precisely, I’d gone there for.

After I pulled into the driveway, leaving the car to idle, I’d noted that the mail was not yet delivered, which had been my main reason for the visit. I weighed my options: I could go skulking around the garage, where Dave had thoughtfully piled anything I’d left behind or I could try and make those misfiring neurons work their asses off to recall what, in particular, I’d wanted so badly from the house.

Standing in the driveway like some sort of mouth breather, staring into space, making my neurons work hard for their money, it dawned on me: MARK ZUCKERBERG. I needed MARK ZUCKERBERG.

the games people play

While I’d bought him to be a hulking force in my backyard, poised to take over lesser companies and get sued every other day, I no longer had the yard. And, to be frank, Dave wouldn’t miss him – gaudy shit is more my speed than his.

I’d bought Mark Zuckerberg on one of my Friday night excursions to my boyfriend, Target, grocery shopping with my daughter, and upon bringing Mark Zuckerberg home, Dave had bluffed, telling me that he didn’t absolutely hate the peacock, which meant that he probably would’ve burned it, given half the chance and double the energy.

It’s a good damn thing he’s not a poker player, because damns, his bluffing skills need some work.

I’d been anxious to bring Mark Zuckerberg home with me and kept forgetting to grab him from the backyard every time I swung by because, well, with a mountain of my crap in the garage, I sorta hated the idea of neglecting that in favor of a lawn ornament. Hence the skulking.

I’m not sure my neighbors know that I’m gone, although I imagine they suspect it, what with the U-Haul and removal of loads of boxes and furniture. I didn’t have the heart to tell them before I left because I knew I’d fall into a sloppy sobbing mess – I loved living in Pleasantville – and that would be awkward for all involved parties. So I put on my best poker face when I moved, bluffing my way to my new place, hoping the neighbors would simply think I’d gone on a long trip or something.

Which is why, on Tuesday, I felt like a fugitive, standing in my driveway, ready to sneak into my own backyard to take Mark Zuckerberg. I simply couldn’t imagine what they’d think was going on, and while my neighbors weren’t particularly nosy, sneaking into someone’s backyard for a statue could’ve caused some particularly ugly conversations.

I considered making a dash for Mark Zuckerberg, only to remind myself that I am still on the mortgage, which means the house is technically still half mine, which made me stupidly sad all over again. Instead of skulking around in broad daylight (I prefer to skulk at night, thankyouverymuch), I walked into the backyard, opened the gate – the one that never actually latches – and meandered over to the pine tree to take my peacock and bring him home with me.

Carefully, I avoided looking at my roses, which I’d spent so long maintaining (if I couldn’t see them, they didn’t exist, right?), and marched back to the front, Mark Zuckerberg in my arms, half-expecting one of my neighbors to be standing in front of the car, all, “Hand over the tacky peacock and no one gets hurt,” but save for some chalk drawings on the driveway, no one was there.

I put Mark Zuckerberg into the front seat with the wind-chimes I’d bought myself for Mother’s Day and slammed the door. I got back into the car, sobbed for a couple of seconds like an asshole, then dried my eyes before backing the car out of the Driveway Formerly Known As My Own, and heading toward the school to pick up my son.

He bounded toward me, arms wide open, and I smiled my first genuine smile of the day as I swooped him into my arms, kissing his face as he told me about his morning at school, as I thought about the games that people play.

30 thoughts on “The Games People Play

  1. I’m going to be totally offended when I come to visit if you don’t have that bacon spam displayed on a nice shelf. That’s ART, okay?!

    Can’t wait ’til you get my next package…

  2. When I first moved into my apartment, I’d continue to go “home” to do the wash and watch Andy Sipowitz on Thursday night. My spouse wanted us to continue to be very good friends. He didn’t understand why I had to discontinue that plan after about 4 or 5 weeks. It just hurt too much when my dog would pile her toys up at the door to either entice me to stay or prepare to go with me. It felt too wierd to know that I’d never be moving back into that space. All my empathy neurons are firing with you.

  3. Thanks for showing me that I just might, MIGHT get there. I have a gnome named Troy. My formerly guy that sits watching hockey, has given me til next wednesday to vacate. My kid, not his, is six. That is exactly the first number of my bank account followed by two little zeros.
    I am a hot mess but it suits me well. Any advice?

  4. Hiya AB!
    I must say, your writing has just been so beautiful lately. Don’t get me wrong, It’s always been good. Just in the last few months it just seems so… effortless? fluid? Incredably deep? Emotional? Beautiful? All of the above. I just wanted to remind you how good you are. I know the circumstances surrounding have been very tough,, but you have been so graceful, even while falling apart. Becky, you are my favorite writer. Thank you for all that you do!

  5. I have an attachment to to Vixen, one of the nine reindeer my dad puts on our roof every year. I don’t really know why I like Vixen so much more than any of the other reindeer. Everyone else in the family thinks the eight inferior reindeer all are identical. I’m the only one who can distinguish Vixen from the others. I have to get on the roof and put them in the correct order every December after my dad has put them on the roof in the wrong sequence. I’ve been doing that since i was three. My dad correctly identifies Rudolph with his red nose and all but is clueless as to the eight original reindeer per Clement Clark. Moore. When I leave the house for good, Vixen will accompany me. I couldn’t care less if my parents are unable to find a replacement that matches the rest of the set. They’ll just have to replace vixen with someone as close as possible to the others or make do with SEVEN reindeer plus Rudolph. I really couldn’t care less which option they choose.

    Speaking of “Games people Play,” I don’t really like that song, but there was a bomb ass version of the song at the end of a “House” episode a couple of years ago. It was a Thanksgiving episode where Cuddy was going to have Thanksgiving with her sister and family somewhere (maybe Lucas was coming along; I disremember) and she kept trying to leave bogus clues as to where she would be. Her bogus clues worked, as House showed up at a home where the only person present was a house sitter, who called him by name and offered him a turkey sandwich. Anyway, the version of the song was by James Taylor, and it was awesome — totally bomb ass. I don’t believe James Taylor released a recording of the the song, so you can only hear it on that episode of “House.”

  6. I can't imagine the pain of leaving the home that was yours. I'm thinking about you and sending virtual hugs.

  7. There’s nothing sadder than picking up the little pieces of yourself left behind, after an emotional shock. And, you do feel like you’re skulking around, trying to avoid the neighbors, and wondering why you care. There really are no words that can express how much I want to comfort you, so I will settle for a virtual hug and hope that you know my prayers are with you. By the way, I think Mark Zuckerberg is adorable.

  8. I will be acknowledging the first year of moving out from my ex’s place in December.

    Yeah, I hate going back there for any reason and seeing something I missed, something I bought that made that place “ours.” Its harder knowing I don’t have room for it.

    I too live in a teeny apartment. Teenier than yours, I expect! Making it “mine” with All The Things has helped. I’ve got my Wall of Jews (family pictures) hung, my Kit Kat Klock, books, art, my new, plush, mega comfy bed – all the signs that say “yeah I live here.” Makes it a little less lonely when I come home.

  9. Beck

    I am so sorry for your losses. Be strong. You are not alone. (((((Hug))))). Not sure why daver got the house and you didnt though. Seems really shitty on his part.

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