Monday, January 06, 2020

Monday stuff

We are up before sunrise. So much to do this morning! It's a pretty day. Normally we'd be planning a walk for sure. Sunshine and a predicted high of just above freezing. Lovely!

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But there is no time for treks and rambles. Ed pulls out his old truck. Flat tire. That's fixable. Subsequent driving reveals more truck issues. Not so fixable. But we don't know that yet.
Good to go! -- he shouts.
I get in the car and we drive toward a storage facility just outside of town.

Back in 2005, when I moved out of a suburban house into an apartment downtown, we (my ex, my daughters and I) divided stuff between various households. But the suburban house had been rather sprawly and it had a large basement and so the collecting had continued, unabated. Over the entire childhood of my daughters, it continued. Old books, papers, art projects. Toys, clothes, who knows what. Into the basement it went. When the house was sold, no one wanted any of it -- at that moment. I wanted none of it ever: I'm not a collector. Still, we all agreed to keep all those boxes and trunks for a while, until households were established and decisions could be made.

That was fifteen years ago.

In the meantime, we've kept a storage locker and each year I threaten to empty it out and close it up, but one person or another has (legitimate) unusual circumstances and begs for a little longer and so the boxes stay there and the dust settles.

Today, Ed and I want to take out stuff that absolutely no one could ever want. Musty dirty old stuff that has no sentimental value. Bedding, old brittle paperbacks, VHS tapes of I Love Lucy. Plastic, probably toxic (standards were different then) toddler toys that have lost their color. And we take out the one thing that is somewhat interesting to me: my old trunk that had sailed with me across the ocean and back again. It has old letters and photos. Not much else. I intend to dump it all out, but I want to go through it first to see if there is anything there that would aid me with my Great Writing Project.

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The goal is really to make room in the storage locker for my mom's stuff. Ed glances at the unit and shakes his head.
Enough room here for half a dozen households!

Still, we work through boxes and boxes of stuff, leaving most for my daughters and my ex-husband to sort through, but removing at least one truck-load of junk.

It's all terribly dusty! I've come dressed in old clothes. I can't wait to change out of them. My one good pair of mittens is filthy. I toss them on the floor of the car, feeling grateful that it's warming up outside.

Ed drives away in his now rattling truck to Goodwill with the discards, I drive to my mom's apartment. (You'll recognize the view en route.)

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And I think about the various things that flashed before me in that storage locker: kid clothes -- the pretty dress I bought for my then three year old when we were in Scotland. Programs -- the Madison Nutcracker, where my younger girl performed as Clara. A picture drawn by my older girl when she was just about Snowdrop's age. How can you ever toss these things away?

On the other hand, if you never look at any of it again, indeed, if you have lived for fifteen years not even remembering that these things are there, doesn't that tell you that it's time to let go of it all? How do you look back on a life well lived? Surely not by rifling through brittle papers? In theory, I have some curiosity about my notebook from my Polish first grade (It's long been tossed away by my parents): we used to draw colorful borders after each writing assignment. I'm trying to remember how my borders looked. But will I be any worse off if I never see them again?

At my mom's place, I survey stuff she has neatly packed into three large closets, two dressers and a desk. Oh, and a trunk. We are a family of many trunks.

The woman is a clothes horse! She relocated here from California a year and a half ago and I thought she had considerably downsized then, but somehow her closets are full nonetheless. Stacks of clothes. Piles of stuff. Of papers, of music tapes that she does not want to listen to anymore. (Will she ever? I don't know.) It's overwhelming.

My mom had made a list of things I can get rid of. Ed and I fill several cardboard boxes and we don't even make a dent.
This wont work -- I tell him. We need to start with a list of things she DOES want. 

Again Ed drives off to Goodwill, as I go on to see my mom at the Rehab Center. We talk about her things. She is slowly getting used to the idea of not returning to her apartment, even as neither of us know where she will be a month or two from now.

As I return to the farmette I think about how wonderful it has been to work through all this with Ed by my side. There's the lifting, the hauling that I truly haven't the muscle strength to do on my own, but more importantly, there's his reassuring presence. He's a guy who never despairs that something can't be done. He just does it. Slowly, methodically, without anxiety, without complaint.  It allows me to believe that we can whittle it down and move it out. That we can stall the apartment people until we hear about the next step. That we can manage this despite the dust, the endless hauls, the moving, the sorting. [What does he get in return? A grateful smile from me and a parking ticket stuck in his truck window from Madison police. The meter had run out.]

I have just enough time for a cup of coffee at home and then I head out to pick up the kids at school. Winter break is over -- we are back to our regular weekday schedule.

(Playing with yesterday's two balloons...)

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(oops! a tangle!)

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(freed again!)

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I cook soup for supper. Vegetables, beans, but really the broth is what counts. Chicken broth. Make your own or buy a good variety in the store. Add it to your sauteed veggies, let it all simmer, inhale the aromas, eat. Mmmm! So good.