Before we officially move, I need to pack up some stuff that didn’t make it to Mom’s new home in the mountains. Lots of bric-a-brac, “frou-frou” in the Interior Design profession. Some clothes, linens…stuff like that.
And things sneak up on me, just like that photo of my dad at the river did on Thanksgiving at my brother-in-law’s house.
I found the rehearsal schedule for the only ballet recital I was ever in. I was in second grade.
There was a skirt / blouse ensemble that my mom purchased over twenty years ago from an exclusive dress shop in Roanoke. She wore it to work. Then I wore it to work. Then it went back to her closet, so she must have worn it to work some more.
Mom made a smocked dress for me when I was about six. Found that. And a yellow dress I wore for a portrait when I was a little younger.
Her high school yearbook from her sophomore year was in a box in a closet. I look at those pictures now and think it looks like they were taken a hundred years ago. Then I look at my own yearbooks, stacked in the floor in my living room, waiting to be boxed up, and think the same thing.
During high school, then again in college, my piano teachers would pull out some old nasty-looking piece of sheet music they’d played in college and give it to me. The pages were always brown, torn, held together by pieces of dried Scotch tape. My own music from college looks just the same.
I stumbled upon a pink dress box, lined with tissue paper, containing a few Christmas ornaments left from the ones we used when I was little. Always on a cedar tree from a farm somewhere. And, in the same box, genuine icicles. The long stringy tinsel things we used to put on the tree after it was all decorated to make everything sparkle. Then a cat or dog would pull a few off the tree, chow down, and make the yard sparkle all year long!
Dress patterns for dresses my mom make for me to wear to school. Some of them are hilarious; others could be made and worn today and no one would know they were 30-year-old patterns.
Other craft patterns: for a red sweater mom knitted for my son when he was a toddler. It has owls on the yoke; for slouch bags she sewed, and taught Domincan women how to sew. Doilies. Lots of doilies.
Cassette tapes, from Country to Classical. All outsourced now, to CDs and MP3s. Even a few LPs, being revived by new gadgets w/ USB connections so you can record your old LPs onto your computer, scratches and all, I guess.
Picture frames, bowling balls, carnival glass my Grandmother won at fairs over the years.
Stuff. Individually, all these things are just stuff. The neat thing is that I can pick something up, hold it in my hands, and remember. “Oh, that was real! I thought I’d dreamed it, or imagined it. But here’s proof!”
Individual pieces of my history, boxed and stacked and spread out all over the place.
But when I add them all up, they amount to, well, LIFE.
Or lives actualy.
My grandparents; my parents; me; my children.
And one day, their children.
And their children.
Today I’ll wander back into the past, remember, reconcile and take another step into tomorrow.