After almost 19 years of marriage my husband and I decided to participate in a neighborhood rummage sale. Without background information this commencing sentence is really uninspiring, but you know me -I’ve got a back story!! Though we knew each other as very young people my husband and I remet later as adults, dated for five seconds, got married in two and began to grow our family. One early June morning my sweeter and much more adorable version of John Wayne picked me up in a green, rusty and fantastic horse trailer and helped me haul all my things to Madison. Everything I held dear and important came with me; everything. I hated saying goodbye. When my best friend moved to Florida in 7th grade our parents gave us a very specific allotted amount of time to have a weekly long distance phone call; we spent half the call saying goodbye – “You hang up; no you; bye; bye; now you have to hang up; no you………” And so packed in that green trailer were things I could NOT live without; just to be clear, my friend was not in the trailer. She was in Florida. There are boundaries!
Most of those boxes went into the attic immediately after the green trailer was barren and the door slammed shut; then we had three children. Last week we unpacked the boxes.
One box after another proved to be more and more of a potential clue that we were possibly hoarders and so through a quiet understanding and tedious process, as well as an assembly line of children, we were able to empty out 60% of our attic and basement. And when I say we I mean my husband and kids, because somehow I got out of the majority of this purge. I fought this process tooth and nail. Did I mention?
I hate saying goodbye.
The morning came when it was time to hang clothes on garment racks, place jewellery boxes, lamps, tablecloths and books on tarps and hope other people would enjoy and utilize decades of memories and also, very lovely – crap. As old costumes began to line our front lawn I reached deep into the 30 gallon Zip Lock storage bag and pulled out a ruffled, four foot long rainbow of fabric that took my breath abruptly and utterly…away.
My Madison driveway transformed immediately into 1136 East Brown Deer Road, and I was five years old hopping off the school bus returning from a successful day of Kindergarten at Dunwood. Running up the black pavement like no nobody’s business I exploded into my house like Norma Desmond in Scene one, Act one of SunSet Boulevard.
“Snack me!” Arms awry, flailing in miserable desperation.
(I did not talk to my mother that way, just fyi; I am keeping in dramatic effect for character development).
Snack me she did. The kitchen walls filled with sounds of Samba and my mother came around the corner like a Portuguese, Brazilian goddess wearing the headdress of a fruit basket, a bright, red shiny shirt tied at the waist and the rest of her lithe frame was covered in frills of purple, blue, red and green!! She bumped my chair with her bedazzled hip, shimmied past me, grabbed a banana and began to sing,
“I’m Chiquita banana and I’ve come to say
Bananas have to ripen in a certain way
When they are fleck’d with brown and have a golden hue Bananas taste the best and are best for you
You can put them in a salad
You can put them in a pie-aye
Any way you want to eat them
It’s impossible to beat them
But, bananas like the climate of the very, very tropical equator
So you should never put bananas in the refrigerator”
She finished the number with a fruit laden curtsy and proceeded to bring me a sliced banana with a side of peanut butter. We sat next to one another eating bananas and Skippy. I still had my backpack on and my mother, her head was covered in dangling produce and she had peanut butter on the corner of her cheek.
I looked up at my son who seemed to think I evaporated into another dimension, which I kind of did, and handed me a hanger for the skirt. Before I put the skirt on the hanger though, I told him this story. After I was done telling him this story I put the skirt on the hanger and walked into the house. About an hour later he came running into the kitchen,
“Mom, someone just left with the skirt.”
You know that feeling in your throat that feels almost like a deep ache and pressure and all the while you try and breathe to stop the ache from getting worse? You know that crying out loud is the only thing that will make that hurt and pressure go away; like a vacuum sealed pouch cut open.
“Do you want me to try and get it back?”
“Someone else gets their turn with that skirt now, and it smells like mothballs so it’s okay.”
I did run to the window to see if I could see who had it and see if I could get one more glimpse.
I could have kept it forever and not let those glorious layers of polyester give another family years of ridiculous memories, or I could buy a new skirt that smells better, and make new memories. Saying goodbye can be such a conundrum; when you have no choice in the matter a goodbye can be the ultimate pain – when you have the choice there can be beauty in courage in new beginnings.
No one can take Norma Desmond out of the mother or the daughter, AND that was, by far, the best banana and peanut butter after school snack I ever had.