The Business of Change that I started back in mid-September continues on. There’s just so much stuff to go through and just so little willpower on my part. Despite all the difficult work packing her 118 pair of shoes into boxes, only one box has made it to a new home. (I remind myself that one is better than none – and even one is still a change.) That one box full of adventures not taken was dropped off yesterday. I’m sure the nice lady at Safe Place found it odd that “Do you need a receipt?” was a reason to burst into tears. But I took the receipt, tried to drive straight and by the time I was half-way home I had stopped crying. That’s a real improvement.
Two weekends ago, I attacked a different part of the house, the back closet, where I uncovered landmines I didn’t expect. You’d think that things that have gone untouched (even unseen!) since Maggie and I moved into this big house would be way easier to sort through than, say, shoes. This was the closet where Maggie and I stuffed things we carried with us when we moved in but didn’t want to throw away. We’ve all got such a place filled with random stuff. Yes, you know the place.
Eventually it looked as though the closet had thrown up on the living room floor. I unpacked Halloween costumes from all the years we were together. I found her memory boxes full of newspaper articles she had saved, letters from old boyfriends, report cards, school reports, and even a picture portfolio from high school when she was trying to make it as a model. I even found the piece of paper on which I wrote her phone number for our first phone call and, just to the side of that, her address so I could pick her up for our first date. And this is just the stuff I saw. I didn’t dig but there a number of boxes I haven’t even opened yet.
Two things kicked me in the heart more than everything else that day. The first was an unusually large, unmarked white box that stuck out because of its size and the way it was carefully taped shut. Curious, I cut it open. Inside was a sealed plastic bag. Inside the sealed bag was a wedding dress. And in an instant, like a flash of insight, I also realized that the big bundle of frilly stuff I kept moving around the living room was her wedding headdress, complete with hair clip that I hadn’t even noticed until that very moment. Instant, painful clarity.
The second kick in the heart was in discovering the contents of a simple duffle bag. It definitely wasn’t something of mine. It was old but in very nice condition; it had obviously been well cared for. I pondered not opening it but I had to know what such a bag could possibly hold. After unzipping the zipper, I noticed two pink ribbons tied neatly in bows. The ribbons were carefully wrapped around a very soft, worn pink blanket that was rolled up perfectly into a neat roll. I couldn’t imagine what it could be. It was old but soft, fluffy and pink, kind of like the one someone would use as a …. A baby blanket, a very old baby blanket, I’d guess right around 36 years old.
As of today, the Halloween costumes are gone; I took them to Goodwill this morning. This past weekend, I threw away a full trashcan of nonsense stuff that, as I did, I wondered what the heck we were saving this crap for anyway. But still sitting in my living room are several boxes of papers, folder, trinkets and knick-knacks, most of which the significance is only known to Maggie. Most notably there sits one large, nondescript white box that’s been recently re-taped. Beside that sits an old, simple, well-kept duffle bag.
The Business of Change meets the immovable objects.