26 January 2009

What We Leave Behind

Each crystal slipped between my fingers, wet with the cleaning spray. One wipe and they were dry, sparkling again. Only two, maybe three times have I cleaned the chandelier. The first time it was a two hour job. Preparing for our wedding, my husband's mother and sister and I worked together. We took off every piece and scrubbed them in warm, sudsy water. We removed years of grime and specks of ceiling paint. We readied the new house.

Our new apartment is comfortable. We have two small dark bedrooms, an efficient kitchen with a farm table in the center, a small family room off the kitchen that extends the kids' room. There is a peaceful living room with windows on three sides, the world's smallest bathroom and a laundry. We have a view of palm and plum trees and the shop signs on Grand Avenue. Today the kids' room is an oasis in the stacks of boxes.

The laundry door frame has half a dozen pencil lines marking growth of a teenager in 2005. I noticed the marks while putting in a load of curtains from the old house. Dread knocked me down. I forgot to photograph or trace our marks. Now they're painted over! There are few irreplaceables. During this move, I have understood how a person who has lost her belongings to flood or fire can exclaim, "I feel free!" We are burdened by so much Stuff. But a growth chart with dates and names? There is really no way to let it go, really no way to carry it with us.

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