Things aren’t just things.
They carry with them a weight and a flavor. In my life, more often heavy and bitter than light and sweet; but memorable nonetheless. And I cannot touch things without remembering the feelings associated with them.
The soft satin trim on a baby blanket as I tuck a childhood poem into a box for Grad School. The pang of panic as I stroke the edge of the rocking horse that added that scar to a forehead. That one I move into the pile to sell. The grit of dirt permanently ground into a softball jersey and the mix of melancholy and pride I felt as I watched young fingers wrap themselves around the last trophy with this sport. Beatrix Potter books with bindings not yet broken and the wonder I feel as I contemplate if I will still be alive to see my children read them to their children.
I run my fingers across the grooves on the otherwise smooth surface of the tea table I once coveted. I cared that it was marred by flying blocks and Legos. I no longer do. I can no longer even conceive of a single reason that I would. And I wonder who I was back then.
Bankers boxes full of papers a decade old labeled TAXES and MAYO CLINIC and DIVORCE. It takes all my physical weight to shove them to the back of the niche under the stairs and all of my emotional weight to bolt lock these particular memories into Pandora’s box again. It can be done regardless of the fact that they feel endless and heavy.
There are a few that slide easily into donation bags; like tile samples for the big house I would someday have or Yankees T-shirts. They are about the only things that already feel empty.
Snow pants that no longer fit anybody are still folded neatly in the bottom of the Rubbermaid box by the basement walk out atop tiny muddy boots and beneath a homemade scarf in red and blue hometown colors. They haven’t been touched in years but are still burgeoning with laughter from the small hill in the back yard where the kids used to sled for hours every day.
But, most of all, the keys and the ring on which they hang because they feel like independence. I once lived a life where even the keys themselves were locked away and I was not allowed to touch them. But now they are all mine – to the side door, and the back door, and the front door and the safe. To the hope chest. Most of all, to Hope itself.
And as I prepare this warm and beautiful home which I will soon lock with those keys for the very last time, I finally taste more sweet than bitter. And as I stroke the cool, rugged edges I feel pride in my perseverance; and Freedom.