Sunday, October 09, 2011


Our in-laws were supposed to move in with us this week. We spent a lot of time moving things around and getting their room ready. They spent two days and went back to Towson; her father says it's "not safe to walk around there."

In other words, we have many black neighbors, and black people make them uncomfortable. I think he's just saying that to justify moving back home, but the real reason is they're probably not ready to give up their independence. I can respect that. I also think he wants to move home to the Philippines, and now that he knows they're getting close to needing a full-time caretaker, he'd rather buy a house overseas and hire a maid/nurse than have us take care of them. I can respect that as well.

But at any rate, I was moving some of the stuff around today that we had pulled out of the closets on the 2nd floor in anticipation of them taking that room. I had some fun digging in a big box of crap.

I remember working with guys and gals in their 40s when I was in my 20s or 30s. They often mentioned boxes of stuff they'd thought was very important at one time which later they'd simply thrown out as clutter or junk. "If you have a box taped up and you don't open it for ten years, just throw it away," Steve H. once told me. "It will be full of formerly meaningful things which now appear insipid."

So that was in the back of my head, now that I'm in my 40s and I was going through a giant box I hadn't looked in for ten years. What strange finds! Old cards from former girlfriends, postcards I'd mailed to Borders from countries around the world, memos and emails I wrote when I was a manager for the now-defunct company, my coin collection, porn on VHS, notes from teaching writing at Temple U and at Towson U--notes on writers like Isak Dinesen (I can't even remember the story I taught) and Henry James and James Joyce. Man, did I really used to teach "The Turn of the Screw" and "The Dead"? How far I've come, down to 6th and 7th graders!

There were some random toys which remain from my childhood in Stewartstown, PA, oh so long ago. Even though that childhood was the '70s, Stewartstown was actually in the '50s in many ways. A lot of people and buildings and period details came flooding back when I saw and manipulated these talismans.

I had a great time just having a flood of memories. There are piles of writing: journals filled with meanderings, aborted novels, novellas, short stories, poems--some rather good, many just embarrassing. A lot of this stuff needs to be thrown away or recycled, but I want to go through this box one more time and make those decisions slowly, rather than just throwing the whole thing out. I don't have time today to take it seriously. Maybe when I'm 52 I'll look at this box again and say "I haven't opened that in ten years" and just take it to the curb.

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