Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the things we keep

Sometimes I see my life as this big cane laundry basket--and I know where I got that image--my mom bought one 20 years ago at some Maryland farm auction, and I am not sure what became of it--the kind where some of the canes are broken and cut your hand if you do'nt carry it the right way, and the weave is coming loose in places, and the basket holds most everything, but as you carry it from the clothesline to the house, things fall out, things that you don't miss at first, because the basket is piled so high, embarrassing things, like underpants, or a favorite shirt, or little things, like a single sock, or maybe that handkerchief you started using because your best boyfriend used them, and you wanted to be close to him, so you bought one too. Sometimes you're walking and you trip and the whole basket spills and you miss things in picking up the pieces. Some things the wind takes. Others seem to leap out of their own volition. Some are left behind in the dryer, some get stolen from the line, some you ruin through mishandling.

And then as you're folidng it all, you think, what the hell--where did that go? And certain items you miss and you miss and you miss, and you go for years missing them, and they are gone forever, and often it's your favorite this or that, and the things you keep--or that keep you, well isn't peculiar, what we don't lose?

Some of the things that survive wreckages and moves take on a kind of value just for surviving--stuff you didn't care about that much in the first place--a cashmere sweater that you got from him that he got from her that is so ratty it must've originally belonged to a beatnik and that you only wear when you are very cold and very sick and running a fever, and it is so soft,but such a hideous maroon, that comfort in illness is its own function as a garment, or an ugly shirt, say, and after a while you think, how come THIS particular thing sticks with me, when I lost that other thing, the thing I loved so much and wore constantly, how come that is gone and this isn't? And then it seems unfair. And you don't know whether to be pissed off or grateful, or to just go shopping and buy new clothes, hoping you'll find something that will take the place of that perfect dress, or that one pair of shoes. But you never find those things through looking. Sometimes they find you. And then you lose them.

Then there's the stuff that's so lame you can't even give it away--and all the crap that accumulates that you don't really want, that just shows up. The guilt gifts, the bad choices, the stuff you got in a fit of mania, or maybe you were drunk, or stoned, or lonely, or depressed, or just had five bucks burning a hole in that pair of jeans that you've had forever even though they never really fit.

But you keep on missing the things that dropped out. That can never be replaced. After a while you start to mythologize them--the dress that always looked good no matter how bad you felt (even though if you're honest you were always ambivalent about it--half of you thought it was hideous, and wore it anyway), that eccentric velvet thing that, if you were being objective, had lost too many buttons but that made you feel like a madcap genius, pettable and brilliant--and the mythologies dwarf the things themselves, and you miss them and tell stories about them and spend too much money on shit that vaguely reminds you of them, that would better be spent on therapy and a gym membership.

That's how I feel about some of the people in my life, or should I say, the people who were once in my life, and aren't any more.

Sometimes it really rankles that objects outlive people, disasters, love, all of it. I mean, the flip side of "you can't take it with you" is that these objects stay behind--passed from hand to hand, saturated with meaning--while their givers, their possessors, pass away. Sometimes I want to howl because I still have a maroon cashmere sweater, when I don't have the person who gave it to me.

Back when I was pretending to be hard-boiled, I used to call these remnants trophies--like I was a great white hunter or a serial killer. But now I look at them and think, shit, why didn't I take better care? I would much rather have shrunk the damned sweater down to doll-size by washing it in too-hot water and kept the precious intangible. These fucking mementoes are just a pitiful assemblage that hints at what was once complex and alive. It is grisly.

But if I lose the things, then everything is gone. Because there's voodoo in them. If I have the thing it reminds me and if I am reminded I remember and if I remember than it isn't wholly lost. But ultimately we lose even the objects, and they go on to other people, trigger other memories, and they persist and persist and persist, and we perish like uneaten dairy products.

This, my friends, is why I dread packing up my stuff and moving. And this must also be why, my friends, I move so often. So I can pick through the wreckage once again. Sometimes I envy people who lose things in fires or floods. I think if I lost my shit I would probably get amnesia. Which might be a good thing.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jonnie 7-11 said...

At least you don't have to worry about your cumrag falling out of the laundry basket in a public place.

8:14 PM  
Blogger AEP said...

Little do you know, Rebel Leady.
Once I a friend of mine used a wife beater for that purpose and then I washed it but I didn't realize that the stain had set and then I wore it and I had a huge unbelievable white-yellow stain on my left tit and it wasn't until I stood in full sunlight that I realized and by then it was too late.

10:33 AM  
Blogger AEP said...

Little do you know, Rebel Leady.
Once I a friend of mine used a wife beater for that purpose and then I washed it but I didn't realize that the stain had set and then I wore it and I had a huge unbelievable white-yellow stain on my left tit and it wasn't until I stood in full sunlight that I realized and by then it was too late.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Jonnie 7-11 said...

hahahahahaha!!!

7:01 PM  

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