Perhaps out of some ill planned ploy to keep time from progressing, to stall the lapse of life…to delay the inevitable end of all that I know to be. I keep these boxes of irreplaceable garage sale fodder of what was, of what could have been, as evidence of my existence. My entire life consolidated into three Rubbermaid tubs dumped in a heap on my smoothly made bed.
I’ve collected much junk over the years. Some of it worth keeping around, some of it only here because I can’t bring myself to drop it in the trash. Once you’ve carried something around with you for thirty years, moving from house to house, state to state, you wonder what the point would be in getting rid of it now. If it meant enough to me at some point to hang on to, to pack and repack, it deserves my consideration now.
I’ve a stack of containers in my closet of just such a collaboration of crap. Stuffed overflowing, they are labeled with names like “memorabilia” or “moms stuff” on the outside to keep tiny prying fingers from rummaging through my things. Anything marked memorabilia surely has no interest to them. They are looking for food or money.
Thirty years of nothing. Thirty years of everything. As I dump each container out on my bed and begin to thin the pile into a manageable mess, I find my memories tugged at, the corners of my mouth turn up…or down…as scenes of my past flitter through my mind; things I thought I’d forgotten suddenly feel as if they just happened yesterday, the emotions still raw and real.
I’ve tiny vases from my grandmother. Made In Occupied Japan, they say on the bottom. But they were given to me before maturity, broken during childish games, in Barbie houses, in toy box bottoms. Now just shards of hand painted porcelain flowers , dust thickens on their shoebox. Even Superglue won’t save them, my regret certainly won’t.
Piles of baby clothes, tiny lace socks, hospital t-shirts, grandma-made-me dresses and plastic bracelets, so impossibly small…there is no way they fit around their now strong wrists. An envelope of soft blond curls. A Kermit rattle. I’ll Love You Forever, Go Dogs Go and The Monster At The End Of This Book…leafing through the pages I hear their dads Grover impersonation as he read the same pages over and over, child after child, as they listened in rapt attention each and every time.
There’s a box of school papers dating back sixteen years, every single report card from every kid I’ve ever had. Poems, stories, coloring pages. Pictures made from lima beans and glue; Mothers Day cards exclaiming my perfection; purple hearts with I LOVE YOU scrawled in childish handwriting across the middle…no name, no date…but some kid loved me enough…at that moment… to carefully cut the heart shaped construction paper and pick out their favorite colored crayon. Now that, is worth hanging on to.
But what of the other stuff? Is it all considered keepers? A satin jewelry box given me by my first love; wretched poems written in the center of teenage heartbreak; a rusty bottle cap reminder of a love that never was…but perhaps could have been; a three dollar ring slipped on my finger the day I fell in love for real, for good, forever…corroded and warped from years of wear, now closed in the darkness of a heart-shaped plastic box. Do I need these things?
A Winnie the Pooh money bank, once Heather’s…then Destini’s…then Mya’s…now living under an unraveled afghan in a box nobody has looked at in six years. History? Memories? Or just plastic that should have been in the garbage six years ago when nobody wanted it anymore? Why do I hold on to these things?