Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Out of the Attic

In the attic of my mother’s house there are many boxes. And this morning, in one such box, I found some in-roads to my past. With no logical order were things from my life gathered and contained, like a time capsule. Which ironically was one of the items in said box. And so a list, of all of this objects that hold memory, hold story, hold a map of growing up. Some brought tears, of course, and some brought surprising insight. Some I still cherish, and some I will let go. Here goes:

+crystal ball and its stand, wrapped in a velvet bag from Kimberly before she changed
+music box with blue birds from my childhood dresser
+small card that came with a flower, for starting first grade which read “You’re a big first grader now. I love you. Mommy.”
+box with Terry’s ID bracelet, that he gave me when I was 15, contained in an ornate wooden box. I put it on straightaway.
+the play I wrote my senior year of college, (more on this later)
+picture of Max, my grandmother’s golden retriever, on his one-year birthday
+Funny card from Margo, addressed to me when I lived at Lothlorien
+Letter from Matt Dube, apologizing for the way things worked out between us, saying that he “just wasn’t ready yet to hold hands in the big city.”
+Junior high yearbook
+Muppets stationary
+the rest of my piano music box collection
+time capsule I made with Kendra the summer after 7th grade which we buried in my grandma’s yard and she found eight years later
+the newspaper relating the tale of Justin’s accident, when he was trapped in the mountains during the blizzard of 1993, and subsequently lost all of his toes to frostbite. This accident was what brought us close. (Happy Birthday today, Cooter! Glad we talked!)
+scrapbook from junior high, containing all of my report cards, choir programs, playbills, +a picture of me and Robbie Hanson, and various ticket stubs and dried flowers
+a postcard I wrote in England and never mailed, but will give to Sean when I see him next week
+birthday cards for probably every birthday
+pictures of my dad as a baby and small boy
+pictures of my mom, in our kitchen in the house I grew up in
+three blank postcards from Chateau Woodland, where we vacationed in Canada. I’d written one word commentary on the back of each: “pretty,” “humor,” and “fun.”
+antique “Souvenir from Cleveland, Ohio” written in gold script on a rose colored porcelain cup, a treasure given me by my Otsie, the elderly woman who lived next door
+a note from Chuck D in college, welcoming me back and telling me he was going to call me every 15 minutes until I got myself down to Bugsy’s for “Alternative Night.”
+Philosophically Marxist letter from Chris Walker, written while we were in college.
+Grateful Dead postcard from Jenny, telling me to “Pray for Tour.”

What to say? That I am proud of the rich, interesting and loving life it seems I’ve lead for many years. That I am so grateful for all of the deep and long-lasting connections I’ve had with other humans. How sad I am that I didn’t recognize the importance of maintaining some connections: apparently Gretchen Murphy really loved me, and my self-esteem was too low to realize it. That I’ve missed opportunities to settle in deeply with some friends, because I was too shy. That I’ve been loved so well, by many people. That in re-reading these many letters, I hear new and more subtle voices emerging, that perhaps I was too obtuse to hear back then. That my grandmother had a quirky and communicative writing style, with a wry sense of humor. That the past can hold validation of Self.

This was like a journal, except in different form. I wonder how many of us have boxes that can both bring us to new understandings of our own lives, and also are a reminder to return to our roots, our starting ground, to make sure we are moving in right directions. It seems to me that my course was set, and I can look back and see road markers along the way. I’ve surely veered, but the muscle-memory of what is correct movement feels so familiar, even as I explore the growth edges.

The most profound thing in this box was my play, “Brown Rice.” I wrote it the last semester of my last year at Syracuse, and I wrote it out of joy and compulsion. I remember sitting at my word processor, night after night, as it poured out. A lot of it didn’t make sense to me at the time. It was airy, the words that were philosophical and hippie, poetic and ethereal. There was a very vague storyline, and many of my deepest experiences were cryptically encoded within the dialogue. It’s been in this box for these past years, apparently, and when I reread it this morning, tears and tears came. It made so much more sense, in light of my attempts to learn new patterns of loving, non-attachment, and union without sticky human entanglements. It speaks of a love of the Divine that I couldn’t connect with then, at least articulately, and yet this Love shines through the text. It feels like a letter, that I wrote to me, or an instruction manual, for now. Maybe I’ll retype some of it and post it to the blog.

Oh treasures. Oh treasures. And the grace that they’ve made their way back.