“Think only of the past
as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”
I have much to do this morning so I’m taking a moment to write a blog post, not to avoid but to do a bit of processing.
Initially, this post was going to be about my new awesome Hell Bunny Kiss Me Deadly dress from Cats Like Us. It arrived yesterday so as soon as I arrived home I decided to try it on. I was having a really great afternoon. First, a woman on the shuttle told me that I was “beautiful and completely stunning” which is always a happy compliment especially since I basically threw my outfit together at the last minute wearing jeans and pigtails. The classes that I taught went well and I even felt as though I made good progress in reading for my classes.
I also thought about doing a quick post about these Halloween shopping totes from Target that I picked up this weekend. I have the versions from last year so this year’s three adds to last year’s three. I love how they fold into themselves making it super convenient to carry.
As I was thinking through the post, I realized, “here we go again”… vampires and bags, or rather, baggage. Sigh.
I would love to write that I once moved with an unpacked box for ten years. The truth is that that box still lives upstairs in my bedroom closet. It includes old letters and paraphernalia from my early undergraduate days, and some left-overs from my high school years. I don’t recall exactly what is inside the box and I never intended for it to remain unpacked but at some point it became a symbol of carrying baggage. I wanted to keep the tangible acknowledgement of the intangible.
It’s the first day of autumn. This always makes me a bit melancholy. It’s the season of Death. Okay, that reads a bit dramatic but in high school my friends started dying in the fall, Halloween to be exact, and the deaths continued to spring. Thanks for the seasonal symbolism, universe.
A few days ago I also received an email from a long-since-passed’s mother, an email I have been avoiding. She sent me an email while I was on vacation in Eureka Springs and I was supposed to drive across the state to visit her… which really means to see him, my memory of a memory. I don’t want to talk to his mother; I want to talk to him. I want to be alone with his grave. I want to take pictures of it since I might never get to see it again.
When I write that I want to see where he is buried, it reads a bit like I wasn’t at the funeral. I was. I remember exactly where I was standing. Then the family moved his body across the state to be buried on their land, private property. For twenty-six years, I have visited cemeteries and graveyards to visit loved ones and strangers and I have never been able to visit the one who disrupted everything. Disinterment was common in the Victorian era, move grandma if the family moves, but in 1990, it seemed so startling. I lost my friend and I lost his grave. I wasn’t even 16 years old.
I receive an email with hints of (what’s a nicer word for manipulation?) and I become tiny again. I play Depeche Mode’s Blasphemous Rumours and feel the hole in my heart and cry. But I am 42 and my fella tells me that I am big and powerful but I feel handled and powerless. I want to see the grave so very badly but I don’t want the baggage that comes with it. I don’t want to sit in an awkward room talking about her memories of a memory. I remember that she wore a pink silk shirt to his funeral. I hated that shirt; I hate the feeling of silk.
Sometimes I blame him. He was almost 18 and at 18 one gets out… even though I know that isn’t true; even though I understand that mental health doesn’t work that way. But I resort to my inner child, the 15 year old goth girl who frightened her teachers and parents because she just didn’t know how to process death.
How does this connect with a vampire dress and little tote bags? Well, vampires are forever. They’re a constant friend; they’re the “monster” in the Boris Karloff “The monster was the best friend I ever had” quote. And the little Halloween tote bags, well, they’re neat and tidy, how I like to keep my baggage: pleasantly in-check and slightly hidden.
All these memories swirling led me to go in search of an old picture (I was horrible about developing film back in the day; I still have disc film from middle school that I keep as a joke. I'm sure it will never be developed) and ended up finding an assortment of random shots. Most of these are circa 1989-1990. The last show with the polka-dot socks, the Shawn socks, is at least 1993.