Between here and there
I mentioned in a recent post that since we now have an empty nest, I have been able to take over one of the spare bedrooms as my writing space. In the weeks since I started moving in, I have been slowly shifting all of my ancillary stuff from its former residence (that alcove of the master bedroom and its nearby closet) to my new space. But as I said before, I’m being judicious. I’m not going to move something simply because it was part of my past space. (My wife, who has other plans for my past space, is gently urging me to quicken the pace of my transfer.)
I feel like an archeologist of my adult life. I am unearthing all kinds of things I had forgotten, or believed I had lost, or once acquired and then never used. I’m coming across things that had once been important to me but that have now lost their significance. Other things were evidently believed by others to be important to me but never were. Some things I can’t part with. Some things I can’t believe I kept. I have to keep a measured pace about this moving business just so I can marvel and savor and shake my head in dismay.
Among my discoveries:
- A battered cigar box for the brand my grandfather had favored (Velvo). He had written “Receipts and Pencils” on it, as though those two things belonged together. He has been gone for nearly forty years, and I think that brand of cigar is long gone too. I wish I had one now to try.
- Five pink rubber erasers (so far). There must have been a time when I needed an actual eraser (I do make mistakes), but how did I manage to acquire five of them? I suspect they were purchased for the kids in grade school, never used, then given to their writer dad.
- And entire box of colorful rubber bands that were so aged and brittle that they snapped to pieces when I reached in to touch them.
- More copies of some of the magazines containing my early articles than I had ever known I had. I probably don’t need a half dozen copies of a magazine from more than 20 years ago, but I can’t very well just pitch them, can I? My first articles!
- The box, supporting documentation, and 5 1/4 floppy diskettes for Windows 3.0. I have used Macs for the last five years at least. What was I doing hanging on to that?
- My favorite bookmark. I have a huge collection of bookmarks. Most of them were made by my children once they learned that they could scrawl on a piece of paper and I would cherish it forever. I have dozens of these, and I’ve used each one as a bookmark at least once. But my favorite was one my children had selected for me at a store. It is a length of laminated plastic with some small leaves within. The perfect union of bookishness and outdoorsiness that personifies me, and the kids knew it when they got it. I couldn’t find it for many years, and I feared that I had accidentally thrown it out with some old luggage. Yet when I was moving all of those old copies of the magazines with my early articles in them, what should come sliding out from among them but the bookmark. I’m keeping it on my desk where I can see it now until I begin reading some worthy book where I can use it again.
- More “lead” refills for my mechanical pencils than I can use in three lifetimes. I’ve gone through a succession of mechanical pencils over the years — you can wear them out — and they are a reliable gift from the children (though they purchase these rather than make them). I keep my written journals in pencil, and I make my notes on the go in pencil as well. Even so, I’m still working through a box of leads that were given to me thirty years ago.
- When did I take so many photographic slides? Most were to illustrate the feature articles I wrote (though I make no claim to being a photographer), but many were not. And some are perplexing. Why did I ever take twenty shots of this or that? Most of these will go in the trash, and those I keep will likely get transferred to CDs.
There is plenty more for me to move, more excavation of my life to conduct. I have an entire, packed two-drawer filing cabinet to go through. And there is a large cardboard box full of papers from who-knows-what projects that I need to examine.
I fully expect to make more heart-warming and head-shaking discoveries.
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