Flotsam and jetsam of an unfinished life

Last night I carried a jumble of items into Angel’s Haven from my suitcase.  I laid them out on the table and studied the collection.  My heart lifted a little, buoyed by some unbidden current and a wave of emotion.

I’ve taken a cue from my friend Kimberley.  I’ve used the 2-suitcase allowance on Southwest to slowly bring missing items from Kansas City.  I pack my clothes for the business trips in a smallish suitcase and put that bag inside a bigger one.   When I get to Kansas City and take it out again, voila — an extra suitcase!  I cull through boxes in storage for items packed by others, in those last crazy hours when I dealt with the nightmare of a near-fumbled closing on the sale of my house.  I have found some cherished possessions and brought them here, to my new home.

I studied this week’s collection for a long time.

A shoebox  held pretty little trinkets that various people gave me over the years:  A World’s Window lion puzzle from my son; a Japanese puzzle box from a client; the little egg that Chester gave me when we found out that I was pregnant; and a blue china lidded container which I’ve had for nearly forty years.  The person who got it for me turned out to be one of those men who blames everything on his current girlfriend while wooing the next victim.  I’m not sure why I kept that, unless as a futile reminder not to be a fool for love.

I ran one finger over a broken slat in my sewing box, a mother-gift which had remained behind because it smashed on the floor of the storage unit.  Sheldon had repaired it for me, but it took a brutal hit en-route.  On top of my plastic basket of make-up, I spied a book called “The Tiny Little House”, a birthday present from my sister Adrienne many years ago.  Prophetic, I thought, as  I read the story of two little girls and an old lady resurrecting an abandoned house to sell the old lady’s delicious cookies.

I don’t really need the basket of make-up.  I rarely wear cosmetics.  Most of the items are “Bare Minerals” products, purchased in 2014 post-separation when I struggled to make myself feel better.  What is it about having a new tube of lipstick that suggests to middle-aged women that we aren’t worthless?

I packed my favorite Mary Ann Coonrod water color wrapped in a table-runner.  It sustained damage during the house move,and might need a new frame.  I’ve saved a space for it on the east wall of Angel’s Haven, above my cookbooks and next to the little shelf on which I’ve got a couple of angels and my San Francisco music box.  I’m not sure why I included my radio, except that it has good, clear sound.   I listen to KQED on the computer most mornings, though I haven’t canceled my sustaining donation to KCUR.  The radio sat in the breakfast nook at the Holmes house for the last several years.  Sometimes it brought the only human voices I heard for days on end.

I lifted another book from the pile, “Solo: Women on women alone”.  It’s a collection of short stories.  I bought it during graduate school.   I read it cover to cover, many times.  finding myself on its pages.   I brushed a layer of dust from the cover.  It will make good reading, as I sip a cup of tea on my front porch in the cool of an evening.  I’ll let it fall to my lap, close my eyes, and feel my spirit drift, lost among the flotsam and jetsam of an unfinished life.

It’s the nineteenth day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


“At the center of your being, you have the answer.  You know who you are, and what you want.”

—   Rumi

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