Thursday, August 14, 2014
Cup of Joy
Grown up – and in sensible beige wedges
There’s a progression of things. We’re told about it, but no one talks about it. This changing - passing of things in one way or another.
I took the trash can to the front yard the other afternoon. I looked up and noted the mailbox and decided I should go ahead and bring the mail in.
I check the mail everyday, and if I don’t, Memaw reminds me. I sift through the post immediately. I love getting mail.
I sifted. Two pieces for me.
Back on the sidewalk, I heard the exactness of my sensible beige wedges. Sunglasses from my eyes, I raked my right hand through my hair as I fought to find my house key.
I have a house key. Not a fake key that doesn’t really go to anything. Not a play key. Not a key that long ago lost its occupation and forgot its use and so was placed amongst playthings or a junk drawer.
I collected keys when I was a child. Part of me still does.
When I came to live with my Memaw, I cleaned out her junk drawer and strung 15 misbegotten keys on a chain - so beautiful and so lost, only each molded metal holding where it once fit.
I have a house key, and in that moment it did not feel like a playful or pretend thing. It was real, and I was real, and the steps and the bushes and the iron door were real.
I was not a child as I used to be approaching that door - my pillow, stuffed animal, and blanket in tow as I pounded and waited for Memaw to let me in.
I was an adult - a grown woman - with keys, a car, sensible beige wedges, newspapers and notepads covering my desk and backseat, two pieces of mail indicating some kind of indebtedness on my part, who knows to take the trash out and check the mail and brush my teeth and go to bed at an hour that makes it possible to wake up reasonably well rested and work the good job that enables the car and pays toward the indebtedness and the sensible beige wedges.
I don’t know where it happens. Is there an exactness to it somewhere?
One minute you’re getting a Lunchable out of a Lisa Frank lunch box reading Junie B. Jones and the next you’re sitting at your desk eating a pimento cheese sandwich and answering the phone while checking emails.
That’s it. That’s what I want to know. How do you go from the Lunchable to pimento cheese?
I catch myself in these moments - moments like the mailbox and the front door - when I lock my car and hear the beep and the click, when I’m grocery shopping and I pick up a can of peas, when I’m making tea in the evenings or washing dishes and I’m holding pieces of my tea set, when I’m at work making lists or phone calls, when I’m folding towels and I notice my favorite washcloths with the geese Memaw still has from when I was younger.
These moments that remind me - give me a shimmering glimpse of how I once knew something, and yet in those moments I cannot be more real or aware of the presence of those things that are what they are because I have grown from what they used to be - I have grown.
“Grown up” is something we’re supposed to become. It happens. But when? When exactly does it happen?
So many things happen. Birthdays and seasons and TV shows and season finales and graduations and moves and very dear friends who become very dim phantoms and really bad endings to really good books, only to read the exact same book years later and find that it was actually a really good ending to a really bad book.
In the midst of it all, you leave the Lisa Frank lunch box to check the mail. You put down Junie B. Jones to take out the trash. You pay the bills and place them in the mailbox you walk to in your sensible beige wedges.
You don’t think about the stuffed animal or Lunchable as you unlock your car, move the news out of the way, and drive to the job that enables your car and pilgrimage out of indebtedness.
Somehow, we forget the things we set down. And we carry on with those we pick up.
And that’s where it happens - the progression of things.
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