Saturday, September 3, 2011

Clearing Clutter

I got to clear the closets today. I sat in the floor with my trash bag, my scan-this box, my shred-this box and my keep-this pile and wept and laughed over 20 years worth of collected notes, school essays, notebooks full of terrible poetry from the year I was 19. I kept some things, threw some things away but was finally able to look at it all. Some of it is terribly poignant, like the cards from old friends who I don't know anymore, who write, "I'm so glad we'll always be friends!" Then birthday cards from relatives who have passed on, "I love you" in Grandma's precious handwriting, the little folded rectangular notes friends and I used to pass to each other between classes in high school. I still remember this one spot in front of Lincoln, which I passed on my walk from R1 to... where did I go after that? Inside the main building somewhere, and out front by the gum tree my friend and I would pass each other, nearly at the same spot every day, and we would hold the notes out and exchange them and learn about the other person's day -- who called, who flirted, who said what about whom and what we wanted to be when we grew up, that day. We watched different versions of Shakespeare adaptations and compared them, poured out our hearts to each other about what made us sad and what we hoped for.

I was very happy to find a poem about paper clips that I wrote in middle school. Sounds boring but I was very proud of it at the time (and I think still a bit now). It was something on the theme of how such a tiny simple thing can change everything -- some bent metal can bring order to a terrible mess.

And on that idea, the next part of the clearing which was the most difficult, which I have been putting off for about three years and ten months, going through the bag of preemie boy clothes and picking out which few to keep and which to give to the NICU. It's a particularly sticky issue because for some reason I have very little memory of what happened after we brought Chris home from the hospital, until about Christmas of that year, two months later. But when I see the little outfits, sometimes I will have a little spark of memory and I will remember him tiny and in my arms. Some of them don't spark anything at all, and those I put away to donate. But a few stick in my memory: A sleeper, ten inches from bottom to top, which was too big for him when we brought him home. A tiny, tiny stripey onesie. Somehow sorting through them and putting some away and giving others away is one of those terrible-but-necessary things. It felt good in the way that it feels good to break up with someone wrong for you -- overall it's good, but the doing of it still rips a bit.

It's hard to think of a good way to end this, but just to say that it's amazing how something that happens so quickly can change your life forever, and that the ripples can still be felt so far out on the water, miles from where the pebble dropped.

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