You know those boxes of stuff that everyone seems to have? Yesterday I decided to try and sort through some of mine. I didn't even know what was in them anymore, which was my first clue that maybe this was not stuff that was critical to my life as it stands. I was mostly right about that. There were some random cords for things I couldn't identify, two pairs of my old glasses (one of which really really does look like safety goggles), and yet another hammer. (Why do two people need three hammers? We don't. I put one out this morning with a box of free stuff.)
I also found a big stack of framed photographs that I haven't had out in a few years. Some of them I was able to look at and know right away that they could come out of the frames and go into an album or a photo box, freeing up frame use for pictures that were taken after we all got out of our teens. Some of them gave me pause. There's one of my ex (the artist currently known as Fuckface) just after we met, smiling in my old bedroom. He looks young, and really happy, and it's weird to think that the guy in that photo just had no idea about all the things that were going to happen between he and I in the six years that separate that moment from this one. It was all new back then, shiny and possible, and now we've outlived the things we had to teach each other, and we don't talk anymore.
There's also a triptych of photos I used to have hung over my desk. Each one of them is one of my lady friends. None of them is an especially glamourous shot: Pubah in the bathtub in her cutoffs and tank top, dousing her skunky and unrepentant dog with tomato juice; Elizabeth batting a balloon around my living room; Jennifer playing her guitar. Those are still in the frames, sitting on my sofa. I used to look at them every day during one of the crappiest years of my life, and they made me feel better by reminding me that there are people who see and love what's good about me, that there are people whose various brilliances are bright in my life.
It's almost like those memories have a life of their own, continuing along parallel to the world we inhabit now. There's no telephone service between there and here. We can't be those people or know those people again, and even if we (and they) are in a good place now, there's something sad in that.