Thursday, August 1, 2013


Today, I cleaned off the top of my chest of drawers.

To most of you, this is probably a matter of putting pairs of earrings/cufflinks back into their compartments or putting a hat back on a shelf. Where things belong.

My best guess is that the top of my chest of drawers has not been cleaned since the summer of 2011, and I only know that date because that is when the mail towards the bottom of the pile was postmarked.

It does not belong here. It belongs in my file folders or in my recycling bin, circa 2011.

It's a collection of bills (long since paid), financial statements (unopened), magazines (now in a pile to be donated to a school for their arts program)... and one thousand other things. Scraps of paper, letters, picture frames with(out) pictures, nail polish, 3 pairs (!) of earphones, one (1) AA battery, the black and gold feather boa wig I'll need for football season, business cards from people I've forgotten... all with clean, folded laundry from months ago (anyone's guess) on top and some really cheap (but sentimental) earrings I was certain I'd lost at the bottom.

The favorite things I found:

  • a thank you note from Anne Berry for hosting our annual orphan Thanksgiving dinner, where she thanked me "for making New Orleans feel like home"
  • a picture from my senior year of college, snogging my gay best guy friend, due to the effects of (a lot of) fermented beverage
  • the invitation to my and Brooke's one-year anniversary party: Champagne at Sunset
  • pictures of me and my college roommate, who is now expecting a son, at parties or in our jammies in our dorm room
  • pictures of me and my best guy friend from high school, with whom I traveled a great deal in the 5ish years after high school, and who is now expecting twins :)
  • books I meant to give as presents or to read or to just have sitting out to look fancy
  • a note from one of my dearest friends: "Thank you so much for dropping everything and coming down to Miami for my mother's funeral."
  • love notes from my beau, when we were beginning
  • a haiku a lobbyist wrote me when I was working in the Texas legislature, on one of our designated "haiku Thursdays"

All of these are messages that I belong
that I have the exact love I want
that my friends have added richly and deeply to
my definitions of kindness, grace, beauty

I belong to this gratitude
and to these memories
and, for now, to a fresh clean surface

where I will lay new words
frame new pictures
place old earrings and bobby pins

and find renewed pieces of myself and others
to belong to.

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