August 21, 2011
Finally, a weekend of summer. This has been the coldest since 1910.
The blueberries are fat and full of sugar from this long cool summer. I bought a flat today from a farm stand, and peaches warm sitting in the sun. I ate a bowl of those peaches, blueberries, yogurt and almonds for dinner while I wrote this letter to you.
The storage unit is almost empty. All day Friday I pulled boxes out into the sun. Sorted, spread their contents into piles on the grass. In the boxes were the final remaining tangible memories of your childhood I had yet to unpack.
These boxes have been haunting me. Weighing me down. In these past few days, after cleaning out, organizing the garage, I have felt that it was time. Time to let the boxes, and whatever was inside of them, go.
Pencils, pens, calculators, the lamp that sat on your desk. Bedding, the throw pillows you had on your bed. A set of fairy pictures for your bedroom. The rubber ducky shower curtain, soap dish, toothbrush holder. Towels with rubber duckies embroidered on them. And rubber duckies. Kitchen stuff we shopped together for, when you found your first apartment. A note from Ingrid that your rent check bounced and you needed to get ahold of her. Beanie Babies and stuffed animals, include a talking Rosie O’Donnell doll (you had quite the collection of magazines with Rosie stories). Photography equipment, negatives and pictures that you took. Christmas decorations. A Monopoly game, a slumber party game and Outburst Jr. Sports equipment. Papers, cards. A note from Megan she was having a party. Please come. Your resume.
Yesterday, Steve’s daughter had a yard sale. She texted me earlier in the week, inviting me to bring whatever I wanted to sell. I took her up on her invitation. In front of her house, Steve built tables with saw horses, an old door and some lumber we scavenged from the construction site near my house. The tables spanned the width of her lot.
I unpacked all the stuff I sorted and had repacked the night before, laid it out on the tables. All day long the cars came. A young woman furnishing her first apartment showed up as soon as we unpacked. She bought the two metal chairs you and I purchased at Pier One for your first dining room. She is using your old black trunk for a coffee table.
I told her “These were my daughter’s for her first apartment,” as I helped her fit the chairs and trunk into her SUV.
“Oh yeah?” She showed me a little cart she bought at a yard sale earlier in the morning.
“Enjoy.” I told her as I turned away and walked back to the tables.
A little girl came with her mother. She grabbed the black velveteen sombrero with the silver cords.
“Look Mommy. Can I have it?” She asked.
“No. Not today.” Her mom answered.
The little girl hung her head.
“If it is ok with you, I will give it to her. She can have it.” I told the mother.
I saw you at the little carnival in
Juarez two-years-old. Your dad put that hat on you and decided you needed to have it. When we got home, you walked around naked in our apartment with nothing but that hat on. Brown curls, like this little girls, springing out in every direction. Your little round belly pooched out.
The little girl looked up at her mother expectantly.
“Are you sure?” the mother asked.
“Absolutely.” I answered smiling at the little girl.
The mother continued shopping while the little girl trailed behind her playing with the chin strap, reaching up to touch the braiding.
When the mother came up to bargain over your pillows, a set of sheets, the little girl grabbed me around the waist and squeezed.
“Thank you.” She said.
“You are welcome.” I told her as I put my arm on her back. “You take care of that. It was my daughter’s when she was a little girl.”
All day long, as strangers came to dicker over the prices on golf balls, kitchen ware, your baseball glove, Steve watched over me. I’d feel him come up behind me , lean in and ask me quietly, “How you doin’ Sugar?”
I would answer, “I’m ok.” And I wasn’t lying. I was accepting this. Saying goodbye, a set of measuring cups, a toaster, an empty frame at a time.
All the stuff in boxes is mostly gone now. Alot went in the yard sale. The rest I took to the Goodwill. All of it becoming someone else’s--imbued with their memories. Freed from mine.
There are a few things I have kept to look at later. Or put out somewhere that I can see . When I am ready.
This morning, Steve brought me coffee at 7 a.m.
“Good morning.” He greeted me as he opened the blinds, drew back the white sheer curtains to show me sunshine. “Let’s get going before it gets too hot.”
We had decided to finish cleaning out the recycling, the garbage and bring home the furniture so the storage unit could be closed out.
All morning long, as the sun tracked the southeastern sky traveling west, we finished looking through boxes of papers. Finished sorting and piling—Goodwill, recycle, garbage. There are two banker boxes of papers, a dresser, a nightstand, and a shelving unit to bring home still. Steve’s truck is full. He will take care of its contents tomorrow morning.
When we finished, we were both covered in dirt and sweat.
He had a gallon jug of water. “Are you hot?” He asked me.
“Totally.” I answered. I picked up my supersize Jack in the Box plastic cup of iced tea.
He splashed my chest with water from the gallon jug.
“EEEEEEE!” I screamed, first in shock at the cold splashed down the front of my shirt. Then because it was refreshing. Steve looked at me, gauging my response.
“Game on.” I laughed as I splashed him with cold tea. By the time we were finished, our chests were soaked.
As I sit here, typing tonight, Sadie is laying by my chair chewing on a bone. Stella is asleep under the lamp next to me on the desk. Steve is sleeping soundly in my bed.
I need to go up to him now. To quietly rest my back against the curve of his stomach. He will wrap an arm around me, pull me closer.
"Mmmm. Where you been?"
"Writing." I will answer.
"You o.k.?" He will ask.
"Mmmm." I will answer.
My breath will synch with his as he falls back asleep.
He is here for me.
And I am here for him.