Monday, December 29, 2014

What You Find When You Look

I've been rummaging around in the garage. Our garage at this rental house is bigger (I think) than the house itself. Too big, I'm afraid, because it gives one the notion that nothing really needs to be thrown away right now. Just ... put it in the garage. Ha!
Various things lately have turned my half of the garage into a chaotic mess. (Yes. I have a half. Adam has a half. I should take pictures, but I won't.) Christmas boxes, college kids home, homeowners needing access to the garage, etc. -- boxes all over! So I decided to straighten. I enjoy straightening and organizing, I truly do ... as long as I'm feeling perky, I have an afternoon, and the temperature is pleasant. No summertime garage cleaning for me!
I was hunting for a lost box. Anna is missing one box, I'm sorry to say, and we haven't located it. It's probably lost, somehow, for good. We have moved house 17 times in 25 years, a daunting statistic, and one that makes me sad just looking at it. Too much upheaval. Too much displacement. Too many strands of friendship and home broken. But, life is what it is, and there's not much we can do about such things. I've sifted through belongings many times, ridding myself of things deemed unnecessary. Often, things get lost. I regret some things I let go.
Yesterday I opened a plastic bin, one of three whose contents I thought I knew. I hadn't opened this blue bin in years, I guess. I had not idea what was in there.
I found a little basket I thought I'd lost. I wondered where it had gone. I knew ... at least, I thought I was certain, that I wouldn't have given it away to Goodwill. But I'll tell you, in the midst of trauma and sorrow and moving and distress, a woman will get rid of things she would not part with in her right mind. It happens.
I bought this basket over 20 years ago at the Canton Flea Market in Mississippi for $2. I was with my mother. I love its unusual shape and color.
The next find was interesting too. I recognized the red plaid bag immediately -- a bag from a store in Independence, Iowa called "The Little Red Schoolhouse." How I loved that store! We lived in Iowa from 1995-2001, teaching and working hard at a boarding school. This delightful gift shop was an escape, an emotional salve to me when things got too stressful. During a shopping run to town, I'd step into this store, smell their candles, look at their lovely, simple, beautiful wares, and be soothed. I couldn't afford many of their items, but these dish towels -- simple, useful -- were perfect. I'd buy them for myself but keep some to give as gifts. Back then I was younger, more organized, and I kept gifts on hand in case I needed them. We had a good bit of staff turnover at the school, and a nice house-warming gift was smart to have in the closet.
I kept this box full of gifts, truth be told. Christmas gifts especially, but other little presents as well. I shopped lightly year round, and stashed them away. And forgot about the last few, after we left Iowa. Life got complicated, and my mind lost track of it. And now? I have two brand new dish towels, 15 years old. That's strange.
I found some little school photos of the children too. Oh, how long ago it seems!
Along the top is Philip, K-3rd grades. Peter is the blond, K and 1st grades. And Anna, K-2nd grades. At the time, I felt I was barely in touch with my dear children as we flitted frantically from day to day, taking care of so many tasks of teaching, working, homemaking, loving, disciplining, instructing our dorm boys and our own kids too. I wanted so badly to do it all well, to make a warm home filled with the magic of a Tasha Tudor cottage, all while teaching high school English and managing students and the multitude of other responsibilities that a boarding school involves. It's a good thing we were so young then!
Rummaging around in one's garage is an emotional business. These simple items bring back floods of memories of friends found and lost along the way, moments that slipped through my fingers that I now wish I could have savored much longer. This heel-end of the year is perhaps a good time to contemplate the past and cherish it as best we can.


  1. Ok, you've got me on the moves. But I know about tossing things and then wondering what on earth I was thinking, When we moved to this old home 20 years ago boxes went to the attic. Old toys, collected things we didn't want right then. We just got rid of our last box this Fall. Kids have taken (most)everything and I have gotten rid of more. I think we have too much stuff.
    Rummaging is an emotional business. I went through our picture boxes and arranged chronologically hundreds of photos while I still can. I realized it had been years since I had felt like I could look at those photos after our kids married and left home. I missed my kids so much. God and His grace.
    And yes, I too find things I'd forgotten about!
    Happy New Year! By the way, I have a daughter and sil in NC.

    1. Debbie, I find looking through old photos to be the most emotionally draining, and by far the most time-consuming. I have so much of that i need to do -- sorting, giving away, putting into albums, putting into scrap books. It could take weeks, surely! Some day!

  2. I love organizing, too; it always gives me a fresh look at things I haven't used in awhile. When we moved to the farm after 28 years in the same house, we gave away some furniture. This house is 2500 square feet as opposed to the 3500 we came from. Two rooms full of furniture we would no longer need went to a women's shelter. Now after nearly 4 years here, it's time to go through stuff again. Not to give away but to reconsider, rearrange, restyle the nest a bit!

  3. I love organising and sorting as well. It is only a warm weather activity as our stuff is in the loft which is freezing at this time of year. I see your nails are lasting well!

  4. The kids are SO cute! Aw! How fun to find a bunch of stuff in a mystery box! I guess it's been too long since we moved.

  5. In the last few days I've written a 14 page "history" for my younger brother to bring him up to speed on my life. We hadn't visited in about 20 years. I found myself wondering what to include and what to leave out. Looking back is always an emotional thing. I, too, am emotionally drained by looking through piles of old photos. (It may have something to do with the mustiness!) I figure I could spend years of my life organizing and scrapbooking...OR I can just leave them in the plastic bin and let everyone dig through and look at them as they please. ;) Every few years I take a shot at it. I've got three little piles going that I add to now and then. These will go to my three biological kiddos. They can decide what they want to do with them. These are all older childhood pics. I figure everyone has enough recent photos on their computers, iphones and other gadgets. The whole photo thing can take over our lives and keep us from living the present moment, don't you think?


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