Does anyone else find that their stuff accumulates, stuff that’s cool and probably expensive, but useless and just THERE all the time? For some reason I’m in a mood? State of mind? to get rid of a large percentage of what I own and then I look at it and think, “How?” Strangely, it’s not just the physical detritus of life but also some of the NON-physical stuff.
People have yard sales — I could do that, may do that, but I’m more in the state of mind to just haul it all out to the front yard and put a big sign up on the tree that says “Free!” As much in terms of “Liberate me!” as in terms of “I don’t even want money for this stuff.”
I think the enforced solitude of the past year+ has affected me in this way. It made it difficult to go on as if nothing happened or was happening or was likely to happen etc. about stuff happening. If that makes sense. The NON-physical stuff is a little more difficult.
Among my earliest memories are some marginally verbal images. I remember distinctly many times when, as a little girl, I looked at something or saw something I hadn’t seen before and thought, “OK, so that’s what this is like,” as if I’d entered the world as a space alien on a mission to discover how humans lived. I think I thought that all the adult things were FIXED and PERMANENT and I had to grow into them and that was great. Church was problematic but so fantastic (as in fantasy) that it was just another interesting story about made up people. I liked it. I liked the stories and the lessons. I was well prepared for metaphor and embraced it. In time, I came to understand that for many people it was a fixed point in this chaos.
It wasn’t until I was 9 or 10, and we moved out of Colorado and went to Nebraska that the whole idea of change penetrated my young brain. “OK, so now this is it,” I thought for a little while, but I was excited by the change, finding a new house all of that. When things started getting weird in the family I realized that there were no fixed points and the whole thing was up for grabs constantly. And how? I was a witness to my dad’s physical deterioration caused by Multiple Sclerosis. Still, it wasn’t until he actually died when I was 20 that I understood REALLY that he wasn’t going to “change back.” For a little while — I think in high school — (I was one of those annoying deep kids) and embraced (and wrote) the idea that change is the only constant in the universe. At 17 one is able to make such pronouncements on the nature of the universe. Now I know it was my attempt to find the paradoxical fixed point in this time-river of flux, trauma and joy.
Meanwhile, I was changing all the time — physically, intellectually, worst of all, emotionally (and hormonally, argh) though, like many others, less aware of my own changes than of the changes in the world around me. Maybe. That hasn’t stopped and now I am on the cusp of 70, and it’s weird. I remember the big surprise party I organized in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for my mom when she turned 70 in 1990. It was a major undertaking (and a great party). She lived in Montana. My Aunt Helen — from Oregon — brought my grandma to visit my mom with the plan (plot) of asking mom to take her to see Santa Fe. Mom swallowed the bait and they drove to Santa Fe from Billings at the appointed time. I had invited my mom’s friends and family from all over and many of them came. I got a private dining room at the La Fonda Hotel (my mom’s favorite) and when my mom walked into the room, all her friends, me, my brother and my niece were there.
Sometimes — and after the past year and a half I feel this a lot — we just want everything to stop for a minute so we can get our bearings. It wasn’t like everything else went on vacation while the Covid insanity raged (or rages?). Everything kept happening.
So…in my garage is a beautiful bike I won’t ride. A pair of X-country skis I’m not going to use. A bunch of books I’ve already read. An 8 mm projector and film that no one’s looked at since 1984. In my studio is a Nordic Trak that I’d love to use but have found practically impossible with one leg shorter than the other. There are books all over the place that I’ve already read and that pertain to other projects and other times. There is a shitload of memorabilia that’s really cool, stuff like my great-grandmother’s cookbook which is in a condition similar to that of the Dead Sea Scrolls. There’s a doll my dad sewed when he was a little boy that resembles the newly discovered corpse in Pompeii. My dad’s slide rule from high school, inside the leather case of which he drew a swastika. Why? He hated Hitler, but who knows what was going through his mind? My own life has its own relics, all stored in a trunk that’s at least 180 years old, probably older.
All of this stuff is an allegory for my mind which is equally filled with memorabilia. I was thinking how cool it would be to move somewhere where it snows more, then I realized that I don’t especially want to move. It’s the CHANGES brought by moving, some of the changes under my control, some requiring surrender, and then the necessary sloughing off of stuff, both actual and metaphorical.
I’m just going to have to do this the hard way.
Thanks for listening. 🙂
Featured photo: Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory