Saturday, January 21, 2012

Incremental Loss

So I was at my parent's house clearing stuff away. This was WAAAYY harder than I thought it would be. It's stuff. It's life. It's gone.

Pretty much all the furniture had been either divvied up or taken to storage. What was left was just a bunch of little stuff. You know what I mean, all that stuff you put away in closets, under the bathroom sink, etc that can take a whole other u-haul, twenty more boxes, we're always SHOCKED at how much of the small stuff there is. Well, this was no exception.

How many plastic space organizers can one woman have? The answer is innumerable. My mother had a capacity to save space by taking up space with plastic bins, drawers organizers, etc. After I emptied them half of the garage was space organizers. And plastic bags. My God! Did she never once throw one into the garbage?!

These were good for stuffing, for wrapping around glass and breakables, but it was again beyond me how much trash she kept. Of course both my parents were the product of a Great Depression childhood, which makes one wonder if today's Great Recession will make us all into hoarders. What do we have worth saving?

Packing up stuff is different than packing up the last remains of one's family. Suddenly even the oldest known cottonballs took on significance. These used to be ours. I looked at bobby pins and found myself reminiscing. The ordinary took on a veil of extra-ordinary. So did the plastic bags, the shoe horns (hundreds of them--who knew!), and other misc. small containers (all saved!)--but another thing became clear as I sorted: the number of small, independent stores that we once took for granted--all gone.

Recently I'd read Going, Going, Gone by Naomi Shihab Nye.
 It was about a young girl (YA) who fights to save the integrity of her community by trying to save small businesses. I know, I found the pretext a little hard to swallow. I know teens who fight for causes, but never one who cares if Gray's Drugstore goes out of business. More or less I thought it was Nye using her young protagonist as a mouthpiece for what she believes strongly in, but STILLLL I liked the message.

So as I was pouring over the mundane and literally countless items I noticed how many had been purchased at now obsolete shops. We had our film developed at Gray's Drug store, we bought our nails at P & K Hardware, I loved the chocolate bridge mix from Rike's Department Store, we bought our groceries at Dorothy Lane Market, on and on. It was like a walk down memory lane. I remember walking up there or riding my bike there to get candy. Then fast forward. I bet they aren't there any more. Like so much in my life.

Consumed by something much bigger and unstoppable. Going, going, gone.

And we are unable to stop this incremental loss.

No comments: