Do you have any idea what memories are in your basement?
Every now and then, I mosey on down the stairs and find things relating to my past life. Examples:
-my class photo from the third grade at Johnson School in North Weymouth, Massachusetts
-my student ID from the University of Tennessee (1967)
-pictures I took of Fenway Park before there were seats on the Green Monster, or when bleacher seats were first-come, first-served (and box seats cost $3)
-baby pictures of my two children, who are now in their forties and have children of their own
I could go on. The basement is full of things I hope to organize before my life is over and my children will be stuck with doing it when I’m gone. I know we have quite a lot of things still left over from our parents from when they passed away–photos we can’t identify, letters that mean nothing to us but meant something to them, knick-knacks from places they visited–but where are they all, and what should we save?
In my seven-plus decades on this earth, I’ve attended countless baseball games, plays (both professional and amateur), children’s recitals, weddings, funerals, baby showers–you name it. I’ve tried to cull out the things I don’t need or don’t want anymore, but still, the basement has more stuff than anyone has need for.
My husband’s response is always, “Someone can use that.” He won’t get rid of anything. If something is pure junk, he’s convinced that someone, somewhere can find a way to turn it into parts of repair something in his/her house. If something’s broken and I want it gone, I have to throw it away when he’s not looking. He’s not too proud to pick such things out of the trash when I’m not looking, either.
We have thousands of compact discs, hundreds of vinyl record albums. What use will they be when we’re gone? Will anyone even own a turntable or a compact disc player when we’re no longer on this planet? Will people of the future find vinyl record albums and/or CDs and say, “Hmmm….strange habits, those people of the 1960s and 2000s had, wasting precious metals to make these things…”
But I also found the little red hat I used to wear to church when I was six or seven years old when I faithfully attended St. Jerome’s Church in North Weymouth, Massachusetts, all by myself, walking to Mass when my mother, who’d married outside of the church, didn’t go. I discovered my collection of plastic horses who were the center of my fantasies in childhood, when I had very few friends, and I’d made up stories about my horses and the “people” who rode them. I unearthed some fantastic photographs I took while attending early folk music festivals (some of which were published in a photo retrospective of the Philadelphia Folk Festival a few years ago). And I found the score sheets of a tennis tournament my friend Darlene and I won years ago when I first started playing competitive tennis.
Some days, I have no energy to go through the myriad stuff in the basement or in closets up here above ground. Some days I’d rather be writing or playing tennis. Some days I’d just like to take a nap or listen to the new CDs I get every week at the radio station.
But some days, I like to take a trip down memory lane, on the back of a plastic Arabian horse, nostrils flaring, and gallop down the road, ready to take over the world. In my childhood fantasies, that’s what I expected to have accomplished by now: to have changed the world and made it a better place.
As people can observe, it was a fantasy, especially on the back of a plastic Arabian horse. During a pandemic. When people have been dying. When the country has been divided by lies and hatred. When it seems as if no one is listening. I can guarantee you, that plastic Arabian horse listened to me when I was a child, and he’s listening now. Maybe I should ride him to Washington, DC and maybe, just maybe, someone, even there, might listen.