I had the resolution this week, before classes resumed, to get outside and roam more of Manhattan’s streets. Instead I’ve been sitting here, waiting all day for UPS to drop kick to my curb the two boxes I shipped from San Francisco after the New Year. Like my mother I tend to collect things like photos, letters, report cards, newspaper clippings, theater programs, books, rough drafts, emails, and other keepsakes that would be absolutely useless to anyone else. Over the years, through my many moves, I’ve managed to streamline and organize much of this mess. When I was in Minneapolis over Christmas, however, I poked through an old wooden chest full of such memorabilia that belonged to my mother. Knowing I had a week in SF ahead of me, I culled through the chest for the more important items (like my mother’s SAT scores: 640 verbal, 600 math), loaded several stacks into my bags, and flew to SF where I stayed for a very rainy week in my old apartment, sleeping on the couch (since the Ex had taken over my room), sorting through everything, rain falling on the eucalyptus trees outside, Louie laying at my feet, Law and Order marathons on the television. I hit three art supply stores before finding some suitable albums and archival-quality glue at Flax. And that’s how I spent the week acting like an old lady, using the word “scrapbooking” like a verb, seeing a few friends, and inventing new lies for the question, “So how’s New York?”
At the end of the week I had filled three seventy-page albums with four generations’ worth of family archives, and had only reached my high school graduation. So I shipped the rest with the albums, two thirty-pound boxes that are taking their sweet time reaching me here in New York. It’s been one of those projects which, in the future, I’ll be grateful I tackled, but that in the short term left me a bit obsessed and dizzy from glue fumes.
I got a little emotional going through a few piles of my old letters, pausing now and then to try and conjure a face to match the name “Chuck,” signed on a couple of letters, who wrote expressing his wish to fuck me on his living room floor “by the fireplace.” You’d think I’d remember someone who expressed his feelings so articulately, but I was a bit wild when I was younger, and I can’t be expected to remember everyone.