So, Thursday was an up and down day. Mostly good. I’ve been really productive. The fabulous Tammy P. scooped me up, took me on some errands which included coffee, much needed grocery run, some daffodils for my window sill and got my poor car jump started and moved once again to avoid the boot (literally).
The evening had some initial disappointment, all due to my lack of transportation. An old friend was playing in the city and I had been trying for about a week to drum up someone to go with me (and drive of course). I launched a last minute attempt which failed, alas. The other social gathering I would have loved to have gone to was also not an option because I didn’t have a ride.
However, I quickly made the best of being “stuck at home!” I started a new process of “Tetris,” the result of having to partially move in to a dirty room which had not been cleaned by the previous tenant because there was no time, started scrubbing windows and walls and got a nice section of floor mopped. I even dragged the household's trash and recycling out to the curb! That was a workout! I got one of my wire shelves back together & throw rugs down. A room less stinky & sticky. More homey and organized. Way more Lorelei Moon!
I had a quick dinner with my dear stressed out landlady and one of the other people who lives here who I think I will like very much. I hauled out all the trash. I cuddled my naughty kitty who has been prowling the house off and on all day.
I was feeling pretty spiffy until, whammo, I opened a box! (Yes, as a Priestess of Pandora, the humor is not lost on me, especially since I was already feeling the metaphor after escaping from a situation where I felt trapped as if in a pretty dark box with the lid nailed down!)
It was an innocuous looking little shoebox that I had grabbed from my car on impulse, one of the last things I had frantically grabbed from storage before I got locked out and my entire life was auctioned off. (Think about me, next time you find yourself gleefully enjoying shows like “Storage Wars,” that turn a human being’s tragedy into entertainment.) Inside the box was a small sampling of an entire life time I have lost. A life time of photos and time markers that are crucial to a trauma survivor with PTSD who sometimes finds her memory is like Swiss cheese without things like diaries (gone), careful notes (all gone) and photos (gone). I still can’t decide which horrifies me more, the fact that these personal things, worthless to the buyer are thrown away or that someone has possibly gone through them looking at, touching, reading my most intimate moments.
The box contained several packs of playing cards leftover from childhood, including a double deck with pretty horses on the back and a souvenir pack with cable cars on the back from a trip to San Francisco. I was pretty young. All I remember from that trip, and I could be melding two trips into one, but I don’t think so, are pieces of two unpleasant memories. One of my dad lifting me onto his shoulders to see a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta and hurting his back. I remember having to go to a big hospital,. Did he go in an ambulance? And I remember feeling to blame for hurting my father because I wanted to see what was going on and being allowed to sip watered down hospital coffee loaded with powdery non dairy creamer. The other event, our car being broken into while we were in a museum in Golden Gate Park, the De Young, I believe. All our luggage was stolen and my little quilted purse which had my favorite pendant, a moonstone which even then, I knew to be most magical. I would stare at it and it would become my portal to a safe place when I needed it!
The box also held an odd assortment of photographs which only serve to remind me of how many just went poof, probably into the landfill.
- A school photo of my Dad, circa 1994. I really love his smile in this picture. He looks like a great guy.
- A photo of my nephew, circa 1993. He looks just like my brother.
- One of my favorite photos of me, all rock and rolled up for a gig. I have a similar one on Facebook, but I should get this one scanned.
- A picture of my beloved cat Li Li circa 2002.
- A picture of me when I was working as an optician my Mom took on a visit to the store. I’m working. I don’t know why, but my mom has always had a thing about visiting me on the job. Good thing I never became a prostitute. That would have been awkward.
- A number of animal photos, many dear deceased pets of clients I’ve had over the years. This tears at the lining of my soul a bit. Many, many photos of my own deceased pets, along with the negatives were lost in storage. The ashes of my beloved cats along with clippings of their hair most likely callously disposed of.
- A picture of me and Mom after I graduated from college. Me in my cap and gown with my hair cut short. Mom looking pleased and really stunning in a jewel toned dress.
- A photo from Christmas 1989 at my brother’s house. Carefully decorated fussy tree courtesy of my sister in law and a hoard of presents fit for Smaug, however these were mostly for her daughter Heidi.
- A photo of my brother from that same Christmas.
- And, most disturbing, a Christmas Card photo from my Grandparents. I have no idea what year this is from. Even though it’s color, there’s something about it that reminds me of an old timey sepia photograph where people have been standing very still in a formal pose because the exposure takes so long. They are standing arm in arm squinting into the camera, sun in their eyes. Grandpa has one hand in his pocket and the arm linked with his wife’s is holding the pipe that along with years of asbestos exposure eventually killed him. He’s smiling, but he also looks resigned. His eyes are even puffier than I remember. He has a flower in his lapel and his tie is askew. Grandma stands slightly behind him in a flowered dress I remember well, looking up from her hunch-backed posture which always made her look a little shy. I always worried that this would happen to me. It seemed like it must have been both uncomfortable and frustrating to not be able to hold one’s head up straight, but she managed. Somehow, with the smile and the way the sun fades the exposure, making shadows on her face makes her look sinister. It simply says, “Season’s Greetings,” nothing on the back.
It is a box full of loss, extremely unpleasant memories mixed with reminders of the loss of sweet ones. If I hadn’t lost so much already, there are items in this box I might consider ceremonially burning as if that would eliminate the memories I wish my mind had lost along with the others it purged because it was busy dealing with trauma.
Does Pandora really think I’m in a place to deal with this now? Perhaps she is reminding me once again, that it is perfectly acceptable to examine things and put some of them back in the box for a while rather than deal with them all at once. I don’t have to decide tonight. I can grieve. I can be angry. I can also enjoy my new nest in progress.
Ironically, earlier this evening a thought popped into my head as I was thinking both about my own situation and that of another friend who life just sucker-punched with such an inconceivable wallop, I would have laughed if he had announced it on April first! I posted this thought on my Facebook wall then, and I think it applies here, “Sometimes all one can do is defy limbo and move forward!”
Or as that little fish Dory, I like to quote says, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim. “
*For further complimentary reading, I'd like to link my dear friend, Yeshe Rabbit's recent blog here for you: Way of the Rabbit: Choosing Our Challenges!