Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I’ve been packing. Or, rather, unpacking. A great many of the boxes that have been sitting, untouched, in our basement and attic for the past six years were moved here from California, where they also sat, untouched. The boxes contain the kinds of items that serve no real use, but which are difficult to discard; high school yearbooks, letter jackets, outdated guidebooks for San Francisco, Rome, New York. Files of old letters, stories I wrote in college, and psychology textbooks. Junk collected at each of our different jobs. The boxes are mostly labeled “Lisa and Matt -- misc.” It is likely, had things been different, that these boxes would have remained sealed indefinitely. They might have moved with us from place to place, but their contents, their conjoined miscellany, would have remained untouched until someone, perhaps Calder, wanted to see what was inside. Things are not different, though. Things are what they are, and since I am the one packing to move out of this house, it falls to me to finally break the seal on these boxes. It’s my job to sort through, and separate forever, the stuff we’ll never use.

In one of the boxes, in a manila folder full of random correspondence, I found a letter written to me by one of, if not THE, great loves of my life (I know that’s probably supposed to be the person that I married, but in the very clear path of retrospect, it was the one that got away, rather than the one who ran away, who will forever be in my heart). This letter is one of many written to me by this person; it’s not particularly emotive in its tone, nor is it declarative of love or devotion. In fact, it’s rather neutral. What made me stop and struggle to catch my breath was the prophecy it contained. It was written nine years ago, but it completely and utterly describes my life as it is today. Lessons learned. Things lost. The perspicacity of this person has unsettled me time and time again over the years, but this time it finally sunk in. He was right. All along. Perhaps if I had listened, I wouldn’t be here, mired in grief and packing tape.

Richard Ford wrote that “the worst thing about regret is that it makes you duck the chance of suffering new regret, just as you get a glimmer that nothing’s worth doing unless it has the potential to fuck up your whole life.”

How can this kind of magic collect the dust of ordinary existence? How do we let people slip away?

I hope it will come to me.


minutemen1775 said...

Have you thought, with the proper perspective and passage of time, of writing a book about your experience? For all of the things that may or may not have gone wrong for you through all of this, your ability to paint with the English language has not abandoned you.

I Hope So said...

mmm. i agree with minuteman.

and my question is, why isn't your ex helping unpack these boxes? he deserves to go through this forced trip down memory lane.

lu said...

Richard Ford usually hits it spot on.

flutter said...

Lisa, this was lush and gorgeous.

and I relate, more than I can express.

liv said...

have i ever told you about soul mate dave? yeah.

Karen said...

I found a stack of those letters while I was cleaning out one time, one place. I read them all and tucked them into my heart. The next day I ran past my old boyfriend on a running trail at the park. Get this: I stopped and called his name. Suffice it to say, it wasn't the end. And even though we parted yet again, I still hear from him with kindness and admiration. He always has something for me. Something nice.