Husband and I have committed the last two weeks before school gets out to going-through, straightening-up, purging the house of Stuff. I have been anticipating and dreading this time ever since we decided to do it. There’s too much of it in the house, this Stuff, and it is part junk, part treasure. Deciding which is a big job I would kind of like to continue avoiding. I am sustaining myself with fantasies of Order, and some kind of clean efficient spareness that is probably impossible, considering the five of us seem to be part hobbit. I also promised myself a new project: sharing some of what I find here on the blog.
They’ve been waiting for me in the basement. In the boxes of homeschooling stuff, in the old toys that haven’t been touched or thought about for years, in the things broken/torn/dirty that I could not fix and could not throw away. The ghosts.
They beg to be kept, they beg to be thrown away: the papers that threaten to creep out of their boxes, plaster themselves over everything, overwhelm the house. The drawings from years past that whisper of round hands that created them, of time that has slipped away, of all the precious things I treasured, but maybe not quite enough. The homeschool papers that murmur sweet memories, yes, but then their tone sharpens—peppered with doubt, regret, feelings of failure. I can talk back to them, but still. They are unpredictable. One never knows how they will respond, if they will listen to reason. They are unsettled; they are unsettling.
That’s the thing about ghosts. Each page I pick up has a story, a memory, something of my children scrawled or glued or stickered across it. They are treasures, of course. But they are not my children. They are not our Now. They are merely the things that want to swallow up Now. I suspect they never get their fill.
I admit I face the ghosts in small batches. I tell myself it is a special time, this communing with them. An appointment, only. I let go of what I can, even though something in me fights letting the past slip away, reaches out to grab on to every memory to hold forever in my hands. I would rather hold on to Now. I re-box what I cannot throw, knowing we will meet again. Knowing that new ghosts will have gathered.
We will make our peace how we can.