Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Delayed grief. Again.
When my best friend died of AIDS in the mid-90s, and again when his partner died two years and two days later, I "inherited" some of their things. I put the word in quotes because there were no formal wills, just a division of memories among survivors.

At the time I was really not prepared, or even equipped, to deal with more heartache. So the boxes of mix tapes, the old photo albums, and the shoeboxes of birthday cards and letters, went into "the Closet of All Mysteries." The CoAM is the closet it our spare room. Perfect place to store things like this. It's inside the house so I didn't need to worry about the heat and dust of the garage. But it's a place I rarely, if ever, go. The only thing in there is my "interview suit" (OK, not a suit, just a good jacket that I wear when job hunting) and a few additional items of clothing that I never wear but can't bring myself to get rid of.

But with the project of turning the spare room into a music office well in swing, I've put off the closet excavation long enough. Today I started and within five minutes was already floored. I found "the world's ugliest shirt" I bought for Steve at Salvation Army. We wandered into one of their stores with 20 minutes to kill before a movie and we had to buy for each other the ugliest shirt we could find (or at least find for under $5). I won, and Steve had to walk into the film in this hideous polyester thing with green and brown polka dots on it. Truly freaking ugly, something no one would ever wear, and yet I can't bring myself to throw it into the donation pile.

I found a small bag full of cassette tapes full of the original Broadway casts of shows no one has ever heard of. "Big River?" (Note to the Lurker: Yes, you know what it is. Yes, you used to have the tape yourself. Yes, you can sing the love theme. Yes, we love you in part because you know this crap about obscure musicals.)

So what exactly is the Statute of Limitations on sorrow? Here I am, more than 10 years later, still unprepared to deal with getting all nostalgic at hideous shirts and crappy tapes. Is it because I didn't do it and get it over with right after I lost them? Or will I always be snuffly when I come across the letters I sent them when they lived in Chicago and which they kept all those years? (For the record, I am an incredibly dull correspondent.)

Luckily for me, however, not everything in the CoAM is emotionally booby-trapped. I came across the ugly lamp I had in my office when I worked for CrApple. I found a copy of the collected works of Tennyson that looks like a Soviet May Day parade ran over it. I found my tax returns from 1997, an old Halloween costume, and an old Spanish army jacket I bought at an antique store. And how have I survived all these years without easy access to my VCR copy of "Favorite Monty Python Bits."?

1 comment:

mama d said...

You will always grieve, and that's what makes this life worth living. Hooray for being so connected to a person that his old shirt brings you to tears. Huzzah for still laughing at your unshared interest in miniscule musicals. Tears and laughter: Why should they end?