Tuesday, July 26, 2011

everything that's lost will be found again

I've been losing things. My phone, multiple times. My handbag. Bottles of water around the house. I've managed to lose things that aren't even mine: Chip's phone, Alice's shoes, pieces of paper that I had no business relocating in the first place.

Chip tells me it's about patience, that these things aren't actually lost, just moved. He says I need to have the patience to retrace steps and remember more clearly where I put things. A suggestion to replace my current method of flailing around in a twirling dither on maniacal repeat: WHERE'S MY PHONE? WHERE'S MY PHONE? WHERE'S MY PHONE?

What's even harder is losing things in someone else's house, which is exactly what I've been doing since we're currently at my parents' house, Chez Winston---- mom and dad are making it perfectly acceptable to sigh every 15 minutes that I can't find that thing, that thing I just had 3 seconds ago. They tell me I'm joining the aged ranks. Maybe they're right, and maybe it's something else: a preoccupation with the things around me, giving meaning to who and what and where I am. I see it in Alice, how she gathers stuff around her - bits of ephemera that are just that: wings and fluff and bits of plastic, stuffed into handbags and backpacks and tiny boxes that fit into the palm of her hand. She seems incomplete unless she's carting around a knapsack full to the brim.

I watch her stop in the middle of the living room, contemplating mom's measuring spoons. She stuffs them into her pink backpack before moving on two yards to the left to pick up a tiny Altoid tin, a gift from Grampy. If I ask her why these things are important, she has no vocabulary to say these treasured wonders intrigue her into weighted meaning. She simply tells me that she wants them, wants them close.

If I let her, she'd sleep with empty packets of gum, red rubber balls, small tubs of lip balm. Instead, she places everything on a small table before bathtime, kissing each thing goodnight.

Being here with my parents creates an ache in me that can't be soothed, an ache of loneliness for the insubstantial lost things like holding Winson's hand while crossing the street or sitting on the countertop watching mom make chocolate chip cookies or the smell of Winston's workshop at the house on Raymond Avenue. It's the stabbing sense of the loss of my childhood, something that can't be rescued from beneath a couch cushion.

Instead, I watch them perform everyday tasks and memorize the turn of their heads, the angle of their hands in the sunlight. I watch mom water the backyard. I listen to Winston as he tells me about his childhood home. And I do my best to remember every inconsequential thing as they love Alice in the best ways they know how. Dad hands her some tiny Altoid boxes, and mom brings her cottonballs to put inside them. She brings these things to me, her eyes shining, "Treasures, mommy! Look at the treasures!"

And I answer her quietly, Yes. Exactly that.

1 comment:

Alicia said...

Be careful, or you will end up with a little girl who has meltdowns when you finally remove the bejeweled Life cereal box that's been sitting on her dresser for two years, along with beads and other craft supplies, rocks and shells in special containers, and things you would definitely call "trash" (e.g., used popsicle sticks, string cheese wrappers, a heat-up container from a kids' microwave meal). True story.