Before the advent of the Electronic Information Age, much of the past could be neatly contained in cardboard boxes.
All day I have been rearranging furniture into place, shelving books and CDs, hanging pictures, and generally turning this nice Travis Heights apartment into my home.
The last few hours I've spent delving into a box I haven't opened in at least ten years. It's a "garage" box - only now we no longer have a garage. It was stored away for two years in Corpus, and spent eight years in the garage in Austin before that.
It contains a lot of my mother, who died in May 2004 of breast cancer. It's a box that she packed to send to me, several years ago; it contains papers and letters I'd collected, plus school papers of mine, and correspondence between us during the summers and Christmas breaks I spent with my dad. I didn't even know I had all this stuff. When Mom died, I was in despair that I didn't have any letters or other tangible mementos - but I had this box in the garage the whole time. I even have a letter I should copy for my sister Jessie, where Mom says she has a wonderful, exciting, happy surprise for me when I get home from summer vacation.
It's okay - Jessie already knows she was a surprise!
I also have quite the collection of old love letters from a decent-sized handful (har, har - oh, sorry) of long-lost loves. Let's see: there was Bill, who wrote me matter-of-fact missives from Germany, from Chicago, and later from his honeymoon; John, who mailed me a risque Christmas card and an apology for going on and on and on about his ex; Chalo, who sent me ink sketches, a lock of hair, and palpable desperation; Tad, whose letters quite annoyingly had alternating lines on the front and back of each page, called me "Buuthy," and enclosed a Guinness bottlecap; and Rob, who was (ahem!) pretty graphic, which is all we're going to say about that. And there are a few also-rans as well: Michael and Scott, a couple of high-school almost-amours; Terry, who became a dear friend for many years but dropped out of touch after I got married the second time; and Chris, whom I don't remember nearly moving in with, but whose letter informs me he has no particular objection to me getting a cat.
Well! Didn't we have a colorful past!
Once the unpacking is complete, I'll take my digital camera around the place and post a little virtual tourlet of the apartment. It's so homey with all the books and plants in place. Maybe I'm just imagining things, but I don't think the Corpus house ever felt quite so cozy and right. It feels good here.
And maybe after a couple more glasses of wine I'll try to Google Tad.