she’s a girl with glasses

in between days
August 4, 2010, 1:40 pm
Filed under: blog, other | Tags: , , ,

The brain is a funny thing. I can barely remember my name from day to day– no, really, recently, repeatedly, I’ve tried to sign things with my maiden name and came up blank on my first name while writing an email– but I can readily pull up memories from years ago that will not help me in any way right now. For instance, my brain did its usual meandering along the path of thoughts, starting with school supplies, then to organization, then to the shed in our backyard and how it scares the crap out of me because my husband’s version of “organize” is to shove things in and close the door quickly (plus, we had an enormous black widow spider living in there for a time), and then struck upon an image that has most definitely not hit me in a good number of years.

It was of the little red barn in my parents’ backyard of the house they owned for twenty years before moving to the one where they live now. When I say barn, I mean it was shaped like a barn. We lived in a rather established neighborhood near downtown Denver, so this was no big farm. It was a shed, shaped like a barn. Maybe it was a baby barn once upon a time. As it was, I could climb on the roof. And jump off. I never claimed to be bright.

My parents are some of the tidiest people on earth. My father is a packrat, but his version of this involves lots of Rubbermaid containers. My mother could likely clear their house of everything but a low bed and a bell and be pleased as hell with herself but, as we’ve recently deduced, the older she gets, the more she resembles a cat. She’d be happy anywhere with a soft spot in the sun.

When I was a kid, the barn held the basics of any other shed: lawn mower, bikes, tools. What I remember best about it, and the vision that struck the other day, was how organized it was. No cram and slam like my husband. The barn was, as I said, very small, but my father had organized it to the point that there was a path for walking inside. It was easy to get my bike in and out. What I clearly envisioned the other day was the view from the over-sized door: the bikes lined up at the front, in front of the lawn mower that sat unused once a lawn service was hired, along the walls a gas can, saw horses, rakes and shovels and hoses, lawn chairs hanging from tidy hooks on the ceiling. It smelled like gasoline and dust and sunlight. I don’t believe we ever had anything more than a house spider in it.

I inherited my father’s love of organizing, and also his packrat tendencies. I did not, however, get one iota of my mother’s simplicity gene, though I have her same sort of supposed-OCD, only without the motivation behind it. I want everything to have its place, but finding those places and putting them there exhausts me with the mere thought.

It goes without saying that I’m not much of a housekeeper.

This is likely why I adore back to school shopping so very much. I love the idea and promise of such clean and amazing organization. I love the unused slots of folders and newly sharpened pencils, backpacks not yet straining under the weight of books and notepads. I’ve not attended school in some time– I graduated college in 2002, attended a handful of classes in 2004, and had to wait until 2008 to reasonably spend money on school supplies when my daughter entered kindergarten a year early, and so it’s like Christmas, in a way.

My son is starting school for the first time this year, so we’d been waiting for both lists of required supplies before heading out. When we got them, I might have been more giddy than the kids. Outside the exciting parts, the backpacks and lunch bags and folders, they’re unimpressed. I want to do lines of fresh erasers, roll around in pencil shavings.

I told my husband a stupid story I read in a John Mayer interview (that’s right). It was something about the most romantic gift he’d given a girl was a basket full of office supplies, as they’d both confessed a love of them. I woke up on my birthday to a filing box full of folders, notebooks, pens, highlighters, a hot pink stapler, and post-it notes. I think I cried. It truly was the most romantic gift he’d ever given me.

Today, I organized the kids’ supplies while they decorated their folders. I couldn’t help it: I picked up a pinkie eraser and took a long, deep sniff. It sent chills down my spine. Apparently some memories just never leave.


1 Comment so far
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I’m not much of a housekeeper myself, but I keep telling myself I’m gonna get domestic. One day! Real soon.

Aww, that John Mayer gift/office supplies story was so sweet, btw!

Comment by Sadako

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