Curating the museum of stuff.
I am delving back into the journals that were the basis for my new book, AKissB4UGo. Many pages never made it into the published book but still have lots of meaning for me. If you don’t mind, I’ll share them with you over the next few weeks.
Patti left behind a lot of possessions. Years later I’m still going through them. At first I was wracked with guilt at the thought of throwing away anything that she’d ever touched. I just put it back in the box to wait until my heart had hardened a little more.
Some of the things became easier to part with. Patti was a huge collector of newspaper clippings and postcards and had big piles of letters and notes and shopping lists and I went through them over time, sifting them into smaller and smaller groups and filling garbage bags with stuff that meant nothing to me anymore. But there are also many things that I found it hard to part with. Patti’s apron collection is one of them. She loved aprons and pick them up and thrift stores and flea markets and had dozens more than she could ever wear. I still wear them when I do the washing up for cooking a tomato sauce but there’s only so many aprons a man needs.
Of course I think about Jack when I’m going through this process. What will he want of his mother’s? Will he have some future wife who will share Patti’s love for these things? How awful if I’ve thrown away every trace of her obsessions.
I tried carefully through the things that Patty left behind and trying to be a good curator. Of course these things are just things and I don’t really need to be reminded of Patti by an apron or a sale circular or even a love letter. But things also carry the traces of people and one has to handle them carefully and not be overwhelmed by the need to bulldoze the past away, as if clearing my closets of her presence will somehow eliminate the last vestiges of pain.
I don’t know if all those thoughts are evident in this spread from my journal. Probably not. And it was hard to do justice to the beautiful designs of her aprons in a wearily done watercolor, so this spread, like many others, remained in my journal and didn’t make it into the final version of the book.