Summer is about to break upon the back of my birthday. I’ve been tracking the pulse of my cleaning with small packages I’ve been randomly sending through the post office. Some of them might not have been successful gifts, but it’s stimulating, and I tell myself it’s not a test. I dreamed last night that my room had finally been scoured clean; to see my shelves empty was like to see with a strange light.
As I’ve been dissembling the strata of my things, the waste and wrack of past romances has been floating to the surface from hiding places, inside the pale pockets of long lost envelopes or messily scribbled in the elusive margins and days of old calendars, and successfully distracting me. Sometimes it is only images, imagos, ghost trapped in a gesture or the form of a book, as if these objects were merely receptacles for memory – a muted production line of manufactured what-if’s, to handle them is to release precise chemical triggers.. These letters and gifts, small inscriptions that say I love you my darling, my sly kitten cat, enjoy this, smile, until later, I love you, I cannot put them as easily aside in a pile like I do ticket stubs or Christmas lights, they arrest me, trap me in uncertain amber, instead. I do not know what to do with them. My practical reasoning says to let them go, recycle them, but would it be injustice? I hesitate. These once meant something visceral, but my emotions reach no immediate consensus. If I feel nostalgia, it seems to be really only a scented-hanky kind of nostalgia, the vague wish that clutters antique shops or even that cable documentary-type nostalgia for people and places I’ve never known, not a longing for the relationship we had, but a longing for our “relationship”. As if the letters represent the sort of dusky melodrama that movies and TV tell us we should want rather than most of what was actually experienced, day-long crying jags, sharp elbows that defiantly attacked me in sleep, or worse – a savage belief in astrology. Mostly I have been putting on cheerful California sunshine riff music, thinking of my delicious April, and spinning them out the door. However, once they are gone, they are gone – unrecoverable. When I am older, will they matter again? Will my feelings loop back, recursive, and successfully recapture the singing nervous system these words used to bring? I simply don’t know.
As the digital age reaches out to swallow more and more people, I find my papers feel less and less essential. I prefer the talismans I carry now, that are objects instead of words, useful as well as meaningful. Every day I wear a striped scarf that I stole, was given, took, carried, love, and still, a month later, it almost feels like something he has handed to me, as if underneath the black and gray wool, there is a way to continue to touch his hands, thread my captured fingers with his, or meet his eyes like seeing the playground wonder of the milky way again after spending years trapped under a city sky. It is not something I can imagine growing tired of carrying around, like these aging piles of paper, or consider putting into storage, a trait I find wasteful. It is true the memory connection will fade, as such things do over time, but the scarf will remain a scarf, cherished for its protection from rain and its soft ability to muffle the wind.