Thursday, February 16, 2012

How do I fit 50 years into two suitcases and a carry on?

Obviously, the answer is you don't. It's impossible. So the big question is what to do with all the stuff that doesn't make the cut? Most of us tuck it into a box and put it away for someday when we have the space for it again. I've done this way, way, way too many times. This time I have to do things differently.

I have spent the last couple of days going through my past. Like everyone I know, I have old pictures and mementos from trips, school pictures and awards, silly card and serious ones, my toys and my kids toys, my absolute favorite books and some I bought to read "when I had time." And being an artist means I also have a stash of random objects that could become something beautiful when the inspiration comes upon me. I can't leave all these things in my parents house because life is funny and I don't want to leave anyone else the task of deciding what to keep and what to throw away. Or (God forbid) trying to do it over the phone.

I knew it would be boring and time-consuming and dusty. I knew that before it would all go away it would in fact explode all over my mother's nice clean house. I didn't know that it would be so difficult, this sifting through time and generations and images and words. I had no idea that I had kept so much and I had no idea that it would be such an emotional thing for me to do.

Not all of it is difficult. I thoroughly enjoy sorting through pictures of my children at all their ages. It's funny how just looking a single second from 20 years ago can actually bring the whole day back. The weather, the food, the reason for the picture. Zach's second Christmas was one of those pictures. You see a kid in blue footie pajamas hunched over something while his grandpa watches. I see Zach playing the Fisher-Price xylophone he got, inexpertly hitting the bars with the mallet. He would start at the lowest note and work his way up the keyboard, hitting every bar and smiling when it sounded. One bar didn't resonate like the rest and every time he hit it he would stop, cock his head to one side and get a puzzled look on his face. He'd start at the bottom again only to be stopped again at the strange sounding bar. He is the first grandchild so naturally we all just sat and watched him do this over and over again, laughing at the very adult and oh-so-serious look on his face when his music didn't sound right. That is a happy memory.

The not-so-happy memories come from reminders of past loves. Those are harder to look at because I already know the ending, so I know those happy faces will one day be sad and angry and hurt. And I'm powerless to stop it.

The last few days have been like watching The Titanic. Because the ending isn't some kind of mystery but a certainty. Every moment, even the joyful and the incredibly romantic ones, are tinged with foreboding and  sadness. Right from the beginning it's apparent that everyone who survives will be changed and I'm sad for those faces that I love because I know that they will cry and scream and lose themselves before they find a new way to live.


  1. So glad to start catching up on how you have been. Sounds like you have a lot, both physically and emotionally, to worth through of late. Can't wait to read about your wedding day!


  2. *Dangit! To "WORK" through, not "worth" through. Although if I really tried, I could make that into a Freudian slip of some kind. :)

  3. Thanks Katie!! I love Freudian slips, so much funnier than the traditional silk or nylon slips.

    Wedding writings and pictures are forthcoming. I gotta get over this homesick thing before I can remember being happy again.

    On the other hand, life is, in fact, very very good. I just have to get back to my life.