Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Inches of ice resulted in yesterday’s hike being cancelled, and so it was the perfect day to start what will be a major reorganization at home. My den or study will become a family den, and I will move books, music and other things up to a larger room above the garage, where my daughter and I will enjoy what we are already calling “creative space.” (For the benefit of some readers this is not a Man Cave! No flat screen TV or beer cooler. Sorry, V and A!) This will take days, and will involve more than the lifting and shifting of furniture up and down the stairs. That is actually the easy part and I finished most of it yesterday. No, the more complicated tasks include relocating the desktop computer and completely re-wiring the “airport” wireless network which at the moment is on the other side of the house. Then there’s the reorganizing of books and bookcases. You see, my books will go upstairs to what has been my daughter’s bookcase. Her books will come downstairs, but not into the original bookcase. That, being empty, will be moved into the living room where another bookcase, currently full of family books, will be emptied, moved into the den and filled … Is anyone actually following this? No, I thought not.

This is all physical and logistical stuff, well within the capabilities of most people, and, give or take an occasional back twinge as a result of heavy lifting, does not cause too much pain. Yet has anyone considered the emotional damage that such a sorting out of goods can inflict? I had better explain.

The upstairs room has been my daughter’s domain for many years. It is where she has played, where slumber parties have stayed awake into the small hours, where until recently homework has been done, and where shelves of notebooks, drawings and cards, and drawers of toys and personal junk have been gathered since she was in very junior grades. To make this reorganization a success involved the careful sifting through all of this, storing things of importance in plastic bins, and discarding the rest. Sounds easy?

Having closed the lid of the first bin I found myself holding a small bear, bought in London on a trip in, I think, 2003. I stopped to remember. Somewhere the bear had a birth certificate. I found it! Then came the small journal with a few “Dear Diary” pages written in the following year during a visit to the Cape. Young artwork. Very early baby toys that we had carefully preserved. Notes with lists of school friends, child-like arts and crafts that had somehow survived the crush. Stickers and souvenir pencils and fridge magnets. I found myself lingering over every one, remembering simpler days and times, and a little girl running through them all with ease. I had to keep this, surely couldn’t throw away that. And after a few hours I had filled six storage bins and was a complete emotional wreck. Yet it is now done. For the time being at least. In years to come there will be more to sort out, but in the meantime I’m ready to do something less painful, and move a few large bookcases.

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