When Dave and I left Philly in 2002, it was kind of in a hurry. We’d been talking about wanting to get out of town, and had been back to NYC for a few theater projects we were working on downtown, and for me a writing workshop with Maria Irene Fornes. Either Philly was not easy on us, or we were not easy on Philly. Perhaps Dave and I were not easy on each other. So when I got the first job I applied for in the New York Times help wanted section, we bolted. Two trips in my mom’s mini van saw us moved to New York.
The second load was all the stuff we were taking with us, the necessary stuff: the bed, the clothes, two forks, two plates, two coffee cups, the cats. But the first mini van load was of stuff we wanted but didn’t want to take with us. We packed it all up with lighting speed and dumped it in my parents attic. It’s been there ever since.
That was over 12 years ago.
In that time, my mom has been urging me to go through the stuff, see what I wanted, see what we wanted to toss. Cassette tapes, dishes scavenged from grandparents’ houses, cartons upon cartons of books, ashtrays left behind because Dave said he’d quit smoking, dolls that I didn’t need to carry around anymore, and a few much smaller, more interesting boxes. I found them this past weekend, when I found myself, for the first time in a year, at my parents house.
The first was a box full of letters. I pulled a few out of envelopes, and scanned them briefly before shoving them back into their paper graves. Notes from my step-mom stuffed into my backpack when I’d go to visit my mom, letters from my mom about what was happening in her life when I wasn’t around, love letters from teenage exes, communiques from friends. Lots of them started off with things like “I feel like we’ve grown apart,” or “Sorry for taking so long to get back to you,” or “S’up? What an original opening.” I’m thinking of posting some here, but haven’t had the nerve to read them yet. Confronting our former selves is tricky business.
I found a box of photos, too. Photos from things I’d forgotten about. Probably for good reason. They embarrass me, but I don’t want to be embarrassed of my child self any more. I’m sharing them in hopes that I can own the slur of child hood and reclaim it for my own. They are all from 1986-93, that most awkward time of life, the tween-teenage years.