Monday, April 17, 2006

Kicking the Pack Rat

We were lazy as usual so for dinner D ordered a pizza from Papa John’s – not the best but the kids like the dipping sauce. I volunteered to pick it up because I was in need for a few minutes quiet time, looking forward to popping in a CD and relaxing for the 20 minutes or so I’d be gone. No argument from D who was more than happy to stay seated on the couch.

In the Passat, I zipped across the city in the last of the afternoon light, passing a strutting guy (and I mean strutting), two moms walking in identical step with their babies in purple strollers, and a guy with tattoos in a wife-beater walking his four Chihuahuas (no, they were walking him). Once I had the pizza ($20.52), I climbed back into the car and zipped back home, listening to Credence Clearwater Revival all the way.

As I pulled up into the driveway, my heart sank a little. Out in front, ready for the trash, was the rocking chair my father bought me for the birth of J. It’s been sitting in the back porch for a long while because there’s no room for it anymore in the house. The kids’ rooms are full of their own needed furniture, their books. Every room in our house is filled with our necessaries.

There is no room for sentimentality.

And it’s not like the chair has great monetary value. It’s not an antique. It’s a glider that was popular back in the early 90’s and cost maybe $100. You could get them anywhere. Sears, Robinson’s, Levitz. The pillows are terribly used, dirty, even more so having been outside this past winter.

There’s no room for this chair in my house.

I rocked all three of my babies in the chair, rocked them to sleep and breast-fed them there. I would rock in the dark of their room and look at their faces and think, “My god, how could I have made something so beautiful and so perfect?” I sang familiar lullabies in that chair, I made some up. I made the new ones familiar to my babies. There in the dark of the room, I thought about stories to write, tales to tell. There in that chair, I grieved horribly the loss of my parents – so many nights after each one left, I wondered why they couldn’t have stayed. There, I said to my husband, “My god, how lucky I am to have found you.” There in that chair, I said behind the back of my husband, “Jesus…what was I thinking?”

In the chair I watched the children grow from helpless infants to capable ones with teeth who grinned and bit my nipple as a sign that they were done…they were ready to move on. I remember how difficult the separation was – I didn’t choose to stop nursing, they did. They…grew up.

If I close my eyes, I can feel the glide of the chair and the warmth of the baby (all three of them) in my arms. I can remember wondering what they’d be like when they were older, so excited for them to get older, so resistant to it happening.

In the chair I remember asking my mother about my two-week old baby, “Do you miss them at this age?”

She lied and said to me, “No, you will be too busy enjoying them at each new age.” I know she lied – she didn’t want to taint the moment I had right then, the moment with J in my arms, my first. I know she lied because right at this moment, I miss those babies. There is a certain grief that comes with each age, a shadow right alongside the joy of each new age.

The chair is done – to keep it is silly, a pack rat’s tendency. There’s no room in our house for an extra piece of furniture, but there’s plenty of room for the memory of it, for the sighs and laughs and cries and songs that it brought me.


Tamar said...

Now then - I would definitely keep it ... but tht's just me ...

Adriana Bliss said...

Tamar, I HAD to rescue it from the trash this morning. Couldn't throw it out ultimately. BUT it does need a lot of TLC after this past winter on the porch...I'm going to blame my husband for that. LOL :)

Jennifer said...

There is a trick to this, you know. Take a picture of the chair, and keep it to have and to hold whenever you feel the need for the memory of it.

Not only will it take up less space, it will also last forever.

Now if you could just come over and convince me to practice what I preach in my own attic...

Open Book

Fromage de Merde said...

My hovel is only 350 square feet total, so I really have no luxury space for "stuff" - old or new. So I just throw stuff out on the regular - like my own version of urban renewal!

Hmmmm, doesn't leave much for the Fromage estate that'll some day be handed down to les infants, eh?

Maybe my tribe will just have to bring back oral history as a necessity due to lack of storage space!

Adriana Bliss said...

Jennifer, you have a point there. But there is something special about the tactile sensation of the chair - there is a reality that often is missing in the pictures.

Patrick, the oral history is VERY cool, too! LOL

David N. Scott said...

Yah, put me in the 'definetely keep' column.

Ye cannae have me chair!!