The Locker (5)

April 10, 2020

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You carry in the latest load, one piece at a time, careful not to strain your back. Even with all the work you’ve done in the gym, lifting and hauling boxes was perilous. The only thing worse than doing this task would be hurting your back while doing it. You place a stuffed reindeer on top of the highest ornament box, a mighty stag overlooking his domain! You place a pair of small, antique lamps in a section devoted to miscellaneous items. The nicer of the two once resided on a mission style desk in your home office, in the Victorian you and Sarah proudly rehabbed in Chicago. The beloved room became a nursery when Remy was born. Much as your ‘66 Mustang convertible became a Honda Odyssey. You’d given all that up willingly, as any father would.

The shoebox nearly topples on your head. You recognized it instantly. You had first discovered it while helping your father go through his mother’s belongings just after she died. It contained bundles of letters between your Grandmother and Grandfather, many from before they were married. Inscribed almost a century ago, her delicate script resembled what one sees on historical documents. The “J” in “Dear Jack” reminding you of John Hancock’s iconic signature, sweeping and florid yet elegantly true. Grandpa Jack’s penmanship was cruder. Understandable for a depression-era shopkeeper, yet still a far sight better than yours or most any other man that you knew.

To be continued…

The Locker (4)

April 8, 2020

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On the right side were the holidays. Green and red tubs filled with Christmas ornaments. The orange crates held Halloween. Easter didn’t have a container, so you’d put the toy rabbits in a clear plastic bag along with three pink vinyl baskets, one for each daughter. You flash on the many mornings your girls ripped open packages under the tree or mad scrambled to collect candy-filled eggs. Sarah would put a ten-dollar bill into three golden eggs, hoping each child would find only one. The odds of that happening were not good and so you had to whisper clues to each daughter. The night before, after the children had gone to sleep, you and Sarah filled the eggs with candy then hid them. Your wife stayed up super late arranging baskets on the couch, creating a perfect still life overflowing with chocolate bunnies, American Girl accessories, iPods and so much more. You always thought she went too far, spent too much. Now a dead spider was stuck in its own web on the porcelain statue of the Easter Bunny.

To your left were neatly stacked opaque, plastic containers filled with Sarah’s green glass collection, still bubble-wrapped from the previous move, as well as other platters and vases and pottery that will never be opened by you or Sarah again. The hoarding and collecting phase of your marriage was a good one, when you were building a nest together. History now. In twenty or thirty years your daughters might open these tubs looking for treasure…for answers. More likely they won’t give a shit. Somewhere in the stacks is the wedding china; a frilly ornamental pattern neither of you would ever chose now. Picking it out had meant the world to Sarah; so much so she’d made you take off work and go to the department store to see it. She had been so excited it made you excited. Sadly, that phase of your marriage was over.

To be continued…