Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Memories in the Attic

I was home in Connecticut about a month ago
spending time with my family,
paying the neighborhood donkeys a visit,
giving Little Cat scratches behind her ear. 
During my trip
I got baited into sorting through 
old bins and dusty boxes from our attic. 
I guess our sweet old house 
needs a sturdy new roof
and with that, 
the odds and ends 
and treasures that have accumulated 
over the years and grown comfortable and settled 
among old winter coats and broken lacrosse sticks -
Well. Their worth was being reevaluated. 
Cue almond-sized Emily tears
of panicky separation anxiety.
I sat for nearly 4 hours
and read through old love letters,
remembering the innocence of middle school crushes
and the romance that unfolded
on loose leaf paper.
I flipped through yearbooks and scrapbooks,
pausing on a page occasionally.
I wonder what happened to him?
Did she ever become a vet?
Daring myself to remember the exact layout
of my camp cabin,
the familiar smell of my elementary school,
the first kisses and heartbreaks,
high school victories and schoolyard gossip.
I thumbed through old exams
and high school essays.
Mix-tapes and photo collages,
friendship bracelets and old movie ticket stubs.
And cards.
So many cards.
Dozens and dozens and dozens of cards.
Which is funny because, I write and send a lot of cards.
 I never really linked the boxes
filled with cards in my parents attic
to my present day pleasure
of writing someone a card.
I scanned old letters marked AIRMAIL
sent from my childhood friend in England.
I chuckled.
The updates we deemed worthy
of a cross-continental journey.
An inquiry about my doll,
sent over oceans and mountain ranges.
Funny; sweet.
I squeezed my eyes shut.
I wished every question
were as simple as such.
Birthday wishes from my grandparents -
long before I reached double digits.
Words of encouragement from my dad:
I'm so proud of the woman you are becoming.
'Just Because' notes, from my mom,
with water colored scenes of desert cacti,
and smiling kittens.
When did I grow from child to adult?
From handwritten cards
with googly eyed dinosaurs and juggling bears,
to emails, littered with entitlement
and laced with stubborn pride?
Did it happen overnight, under a full moon?
Or was it more gradual,
as the leaves changed and days shortened.
I considered it briefly,
shrugged my shoulders and began to
decide what stays and what goes.
What memories to keep,
and which to part with.
It was cathartic;
the flood of the past,
and then their quick release.
But I kept all the cards.
Every single one.