Crouched down in the waaaaay back of the basement, I started my journey through the dusty bins that I’d once carefully stacked, labeling the contents in a way that would make my OCD father proud. I took a strange and unexpected amount pride in organizing the basement, a hundred light years ago, carefully packing and stacking, and pulling things out to donate to charity.
I always took a lot of pride in the things I did to make my home, well, better.
But I wasn’t in the basement of the house formerly known as mine to take a stroll down memory lane, nor was I there to marvel at the size of the basement and amount of storage capacity of the room (although I had a Jealous about the storage potential).
No, I was there to pick up some of the Christmas things I’d been collecting for as long as I’d been with Dave.
Always one for tradition, I’d been buying one of those Hallmark holiday ornaments for each person in my immediate family, one that showcased the past year. When Ben was a tot and in his Inter-planet Janet Phase, I’d bought a Moon Landing ornament, I’ve bought one for each of the babies first Christmases, and others that represented parts of the previous year.
As the babies were wee, I never was able to put those ornaments up without fear that they’d be gnawed on and lead to the eventual death by ornament which isn’t particularly festive, so these ornaments stayed carefully in their boxes, waiting for the day that the kids were older and were less apt to die by ornament. I pictured Dave and I, sitting around as old farts, our kids grown (perhaps with their OWN kids) looking back at the ornaments I’d bought so long before and remembering.
The Universe does laugh at my plans – instead, I sat alone in the fridgid basement, sneezing, blowing dust off the boxes I’d carefully packed, remembering. A blue ribbon and a silver spoon dated 2007, for Alex’s first Christmas. The Dexter’s Laboratory ornament I’d gotten to represent my dreams of going back to school to study virology. The penguin ornaments I’d selected for Dave. The tiny ballerina I’d bought for my (then) tiny daughter.
Carefully, I went through the boxes, selecting the ornaments that meant something. To me, they were memories of happier times. Times when dreams were real and happiness brimmed through the walls of the house. Times less complicated. To Dave, it was just stuff.
Nearly done, blindly I reached into the very last bin, making certain I’d gotten all I’d come for. As I dug around the bin, an unexpected and sharp pain caused an unladylike yelp. Quickly, I pulled my finger from the box to see what had attacked me. Already, a glistening bead of blood had formed and without thinking, I stuck my finger in my mouth.
Pulling my finger out, I realized I hadn’t anything to staunch the blood, and onto the cold basement floor it pattered as I stood there, wondering how it had all gone so horribly wrong.