September 17, 2018

Six Orange Crates and "Stuff"

Wayne and me Spring 1970
Eighteen years old and headed for college--years ago. At the time I was living in Mesa, AZ, and on "move in" day at Grand Canyon College (now a university) my best friend Wayne rolled into the driveway with a borrowed VW van. I had everything ready: six orange crates packed with everything I owned.

Since then I've moved a gazillion times, each time with an ever increasing accumulation of life's flotsam. The last time, I got rid of an antique piano, six bookshelves of books and the books, bins of research, sacks of clothes I no longer fit, pictures, paintings, pots, pans, canning jars, salves, and ointments that my youngest swore were around before he was born.

The last time I moved, I tossed at least 300 books this time around. Hundreds of research files, box after box of ever more research, garden boots, clarinet music from junior high ("You're never going to  play music so many black notes," said the youngest child ), even paper dolls I've been hauling around since I was ten years old and living in Northern California.

Each time I go through this process, I inevitably thought of Wayne and that beastly hot day in Phoenix when he helped transport my six orange crates of belongings into a small dorm room and the rest of my life. Where did all this stuff come from? What happened to the days when I needed so little to create a corner of home for myself?

For six summers while driving tour buses in Alaska I lived in small spaces. I loved it. But I also knew I missed home, where my "belongings" waited my arrival for winter. The "stuff," I realize, provides memories--Grandma's pansy tea set; reminders of childhood Thanksgiving--the antique ad for "Swift's Premium: A Canadian Tradition"; and a place to sprawl--a sofa. A TV to watch, sufficient cutlery, decent pots and pans. I like comfort.

But should midnight strike and I lose my glass slipper, I'll still have six orange crates and not just Wayne but many friends. And I'll be bouncing down some freeway or the other, off to some kind of "college"and the rest of my life, where it truly takes very little to create a corner of home for myself.