Why I’m here

Once I made  my mother pull the car over so I could retrieve a stuffed dog from the side of the road: gritty, rain-soaked,  a frayed felt tongue.  I gave it a bath, replaced its faded cardboard eyes with buttons.  I hoped that the child who’d lost it would know that it was safe. I spend long hours at Goodwill, digging for treasure, smelling other people in the folds of flannel shirts, filling 50 cent bags with t-shirts and and mismatched china and cheap jewelry and foot-molded shoes still warm from their wearers: orphans, unwanted.  They needed a home, and someone to listen.

As I grew older I scavenged for words: quizzes and clippings, cartoons and quotations and ad copy and stories, the crumpled receipts in my wallet.  I go through the junk mail, follow instructions to the letter. Anything with words on it I read, and cannot throw away.  Someone wrote those words once. There’s something in them that wants to be let out.

Ever since I got a toy typewriter for my fifth birthday I’ve tried to make another world out of words and step into it and stay there: story after story, novels in drawers, recycled myths.  But I keep coming back to the doctor’s office and the grocery store and my email inbox, and I’m forced to realize I cannot escape the world and all its discarded litter.  Maybe I don’t even want to. There are stories in the receipts, the emails, the stuffed animals and the used shoes, and I want to try to tell them.

©2016 Melinda Rooney

 

5 thoughts on “Why I’m here

    • millions of years ago, in grad school, in too-cursory a way. Should I go back for another pass? And mainly drawers, cardboard boxes, closet shelves, the bottom of my purse, pockets…

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  1. You could. I just discovered him and not in graduate school. What I have read (and discussed with a friend who studied him) is inspiring me to make sense of detritus and be the curator I must be.

    Those places must be getting full – drawers, boxes, shelves, purse, pockets.

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  2. J just had to go through the opposite process: deciding what to delete from a life ended. He asked me, “What do I do with the trophies? Shelves of them from a life full of winning and achievement.” I thought about the paused life I’ve been editing, a life full of failure and disappointment, and I told him, “Take pictures of them, maybe in groups of 3. Save no more than 3.” He nodded. “That’s what I’ll do, then, and throw them away.”

    I took pictures of everything of Levi’s that I didn’t keep. And I kept more than he may ever be able to go through.

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