It’s that time of year. Although I lack discipline in general cleaning, at least once a year I have to clean everything. I pull all the furniture away from the walls and clean behind and underneath it. I pull everything out of storage and try and figure out what to throw out. I sort though piles and papers and discover more than what is on the surface of my life.
This pulling and sifting and sorting always gives me a kind of bittersweet nostalgia. In my everyday life, I forget that while I’m living, what I’ve done is piling up behind me. I’m an engine pulling boxcars full of experiences through my life.
I see the shells from a Scottish beach twenty years ago and I remember a town where I saw my cousin’s eyebrows on a stranger, and then learned that stranger was actually my relative.
I see the grainy photocopied face of a girl I think of every time I see train tracks. I remember how we walked in the woods and felt safe together.
I touch the two brass horses my grandmother gave me. I remember her shelf full of curios, and the smell of her suite at my uncle’s.
I read a letter from a boy I haven’t seen for a decade. I hope he is happy; It was always in doubt.
I see a photograph of a girl who is dead now. I miss her sometimes.
All these memories are inside me, somewhere in the back of my head. It’s a kind of miracle that I do my everyday thing, working and sleeping and cooking and shopping and dishes and laundry, and yet I have done all those things, seen all those sights, known all those people.
I’m a human being, in the middle of a life.