Yesterday at work, I was digging around in the Drawer of Random Crap when I uncovered my old 2006 calendar/organizer. Inside was these:
The word that came to mind was “detritus.” The words mark the beginning of a turn, and as insignificant as the scribbles are, the lines and swirls represent a snapshot of a something far bigger than the squares in which they are written. The memories represented here are important, but this scrap of paper and 7-year-old calendar? Well, it’s just junk. The memories would still be there and would be no less important, even without the tangible proof to hold.
So why the heck do I continue to hang on to this stuff?
I pondered that question for a moment, and then my mind turned to The Box. In a few previous posts, I’ve drawn the analogy of packing up difficult times into a figurative box and putting it up on a mental shelf out of the way. In effort either to move on and not linger on things that are beyond change or to provide respite from trying to process emotions that you’re just not yet ready to deal with, you put the box out of your direct line of sight and let it rest somewhere in the periphery. It’s there, but not there. Either way, that box is yours, and even while you ignore it and forget it for a while, there’s always the subliminal tap that reminds you that you’ll have to deal with it eventually.
Up on a shelf in my closet–the literal one–I have a box. I see but not see it every day, hiding right there under the stack of concert merch t-shirts circa 1991 and the ill-fitting shorts that will look better -25 pounds but right now make me look like a chocolate Oompa Loompa.
“I’ll get around to dealing with that later,” I think to myself. It’s been four years, and I’m still waiting on “later” to get here. I see it everyday, but I don’t think about it for more than the second it takes my brain to register that the sucker is still sitting there. I manage to forget about it until some random overturned scrap of semi-related detritus stops me in my tracks and makes me mentally unpack it. I’m in my classroom rummaging around in my desk drawer trying to find the extra bottle of Wite-Out and find the calendar that I used to keep track of my one successful surrogacy transfer instead. Or Kaelyn asks if she can have an old purse that she found in the garage, and when I double-check to make sure I haven’t mistakenly left some long-forgotten item of importance in there, I find a crumpled lab slip. Why did you ever keep this? Throw it away, then go home and get rid of everything else, including that box.
Then I promptly forget about it until something else triggers my memory.
Tonight on Facebook, someone posted a picture of her positive pregnancy test and said, “WE HAVE A BABY!” And I’m like, “Umm, no. What you have is a positive test. I have a whole stupid box full of those.” I didn’t say that, of course, but in my mind, I gave her a little puppy dog pat on the head and hoped that her top-speed run of excitement wasn’t on a short chain that would yank her off her feet and onto her ass if things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to. Crash and burn. Been there, done that.
A few times.
And each one of those times are packaged into little plastic baggies of The Sads, all of which are stuffed into that damned box.
I have a shit ton more needles, and somewhere in the garage, I’m pretty sure there’s another small box of stuff that’s equally depressing.
I have “happy” detritus, too: the “wedding band” hair tie that I wrapped around Frank’s ring finger when I was 15 (I told him I was staking my claim, and he wore it regularly until we were actually married three years later), half of an eraser that my 4th-grade best friend gave me, a folder of high school band music, an empty, flattened box of Nerds candy…little things that are worthless to anyone else but mean the world to me. Keepsakes and souvenirs and mementos of good times are “normal;” we pick up these random items and turn them over in our hands, as if by rubbing over them we might open our eyes and see that we’re really back in that moment.
I don’t need a box of bad memories to remember that those times were bad. The images burned in my mind are just as acute as looking at the real thing. If even thinking about the box makes my stomach lurch, it would seem like I would have dumped it long ago. Yet, as soon as I snapped these pictures, I packed the bitch up and shoved it back under my Oompa Loompa shorts. Maybe it’s because connected to those bad results is the lingering memory of the hope that came before it. Who the hell knows?
Infertility-related or otherwise, do you have a collection of items of no significant importance–things that you probably should throw away but don’t–that remind you of difficult times? What are they? Why do you keep them? If you had things like this and you finally threw them away, what finally pushed you to be able to do it? Do you ever regret not keeping it?