Sunday, July 10, 2011

These Little Earthquakes

It’s funny, the things you hold on to; the things you save because they remind you of a particular time, a particular place, a particular person.

Or, maybe, a particular version of yourself.

Trinkets. Tickets. Trifles. Things that would be meaningless to anyone else, but that hold so much weight in your own hand, you can barely stand to touch them.

I once had a plain wooden box, chosen specifically to belie the importance of its contents. I filled it with a thousand different words, as much of my soul as I could spill on to paper.

I filled it with things.

Into this box went a dried flower, a tiny key on a blue string, a thin silver key ring, the pink empty shell of what was once a balloon, a seashell, a napkin with quick, hasty words scribbled across it. Things that would look like trash to anyone else.

But to me, they were things to hold on to, to touch, to open up and remove and say, “Remember when?”

Now I am grown.

Now I sit, alone, on the edge of my bed.

In my hand lies a tiny pink heart-shaped box, made for me by my 7 year old for Mother’s Day, with the word MOM written in blue marker.

I run my fingers across the top, skipping along the tiny beads so meticulously glued on.

There is no box large enough to hold what I’m trying to put away this time.  There is only the physical evidence we have left behind: this house, these children, this life.

These rings.

I'm surprised by the sound they make, the reality of their weight, as I plunk first one (my hand is stretched out against the steering wheel, the sun bouncing off of this new diamond ring, throwing light in a thousand different directions, a thousand different possibilities for this life we're about to start), and then the other (take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity) into the tiny box. I put the top on quickly, afraid they might jump back out at me, grow teeth, and sink themselves deep into my flesh, cutting so deep as to never stop bleeding, never scar over, never heal.

And then I push the box into the back of my drawer, buried under bathing suits and sports bras.

As if they can be hidden.

As if I will forget that they are there. As if, every time I open that drawer, I won’t feel my heart race just knowing they exist, knowing that I could reach my hand in and pull the box out and open the lid and face the sadness that threatens to swallow me whole, face it straight on.

Look it in the eyes. Stare it down. Break under it. Conquer it.

But I will do none of these things.

Instead, I will leave the box buried beneath the bathing suits and sports bras.

I will walk out of my empty bedroom.

And then, quietly, I will close the door behind me.

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