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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hidden treasures


Today’s tale ties in to my general effort to rebuild my life over the last nine months, which included purchasing a 75 year-old Colonial in North Arlington.  I closed on Good Friday and moved in the day after Easter.  (I'm sure this timing is fraught with symbolism, but my status as a non-churchgoing agnostic entitles me to catapult right over it.)

While I wasted no time getting my possessions moved, unpacking them was another story.  I chipped away at it, one room per day, until only the guest room upstairs remained to be conquered. It had become a dumping ground for mystery containers unloaded by the moving company and I dreaded having to open every single one of these vessels to figure out where its contents should go. 

I blamed the movers for creating this state of chaos.  Had they shown up at my old house on time, I might have known what lurked inside these boxes and bags.  But in a bold departure from centuries of relocation precedent, they arrived three hours ahead of schedule.  Their early appearance prompted a packing frenzy as I scrambled to maintain a one container lead.  

I hurled my possessions into any empty box I could find, resulting in packages whose contents were so random I couldn’t have labeled them at gunpoint.  When I ran out of boxes, I turned to Hefty bags.  (While the Hefty’s talents for holding garbage are well-established, the bag doesn’t get nearly the praise it deserves as a flexible suitcase.)  

So there I was, staring down a guest room filled with boxes and bags whose shapes and sizes told me nothing about what they held. At first I approached the task of opening them methodically. This process fatigued me in about three boxes’ time, so I decided just to transfer the whole mess to the basement, where it would be much easier to ignore. 

I grabbed two unopened boxes, stacked them on top of each other, and began the schlep from the second story to the basement.  All was well until I reached the last basement step and whiffed it altogether.  Both the boxes and I splatted, literally. 

The box that took the biggest tumble was one I’d carted around, unopened, for years.  Only on seeing its contents blasted across the floor did I realize it housed all the letters my dad sent me in 1989 -- my first year of college -- giving new meaning to the phrase “family jewels.” 

Here’s a sample passage from one of these gems, in which my father was commenting on the various extracurricular activities I’d undertaken at UVA, including my decision to try sorority rush:

“Mom tells me you are having plenty of fun and excitement with this ‘sorry T’ business.  I know there are deficiencies in my background but for the life of me I can’t understand the allure in trying to determine which parlor you are going to pay to sit in.”

And from the letter where he detailed his and my mom’s trip to see my sister, Lynne, at Mary Washington College over Parents’ Weekend:

“Are you ready for this? A day or two before Parents’ weekend they sprayed the joint for fleas, leaving behind an odor which your mother noticed.  The dorm also has screens that were shot out in some war I think and haven’t been repaired in at least 3 years.  Finally, Mom and I had to leave ID at the desk before they would let us in.  Guess they were afraid we might clean up the place.”

If this is what I get in exchange for a rolled ankle and an ego bruise, I should splat more often.

1 comment:

  1. I love Papa Yank!! I can just hear him saying those things!

    ReplyDelete