Putting things away – that’s what you do after you move, right? For once, I am face to face with every little thing. The dozens, if not hundreds, of old patchwork blocks – fans and gardens and four squares, pieced together just like life, turning leftovers into pleasure, with time and thread. The piles of printed pages, containing words as objects: spellers and dictionaries and my dearest loves, the used exercise books filled with answers handwritten in large, imperfect letters that struggle to wrap themselves around the unfamiliar task of translating into lines and shapes what you can so easily say instead. Wallpaper sample books from the 1930s. Ladies magazines from the 1860s. And letters. So many boxes of letters.
And all the dear little objects that lubricate my imagination – silver coffee pot salt and pepper, bonsai made of pink and green glass, little dancers, a falling nun. If it can fit in a shoebox, it will have to stay there for a while. I can’t, after all, even find my work shoes.
But – amid the butterscotch veneer kitchen cupboards and the honey-gold oak floors – I don’t know where to put you.
I thought for a minute you would go on the pillow next to me, under the quilt Pammy and Mom and me sewed with the other weekend volunteers at the Historical Society – a survivor of nearly 50 years, as cozy as it is unfashionable in 1970s primary red, butter yellow and dark, cobalt blue – snoozing between the bouquet-covered sheets, like a drowsy gardener watching the grass grow.
Do you belong in the past? Is that where I should put you? The future? Or the Never Was? And where have you put me? That answer might be too hard. I guess I still don’t want to know.