on hangers festooning the basement laundry room, ballerina tutus of leotard and tulle challenge my drive to go through, sort, clean out, organize. tiny costumes and pink slippers that held fifth position and twirled pirouettes taunt me. i stand and gaze. and stare, lost in thought. they are the stuff of dearest memories, of watching my daughter dance, of sitting on the wood floor in the back hallway of the ballet studio, of heartbreakingly sweet recitals and pink roses and light smudges of blushy rouge on softest four-year-old smiling cheeks. how, then, do i sort these, i wonder. how, then, do i clean them out, i wonder.
though i am mostly not a fancy-schmancy, the bubbles and the bits of lace and tiny crystals will get me along with the art and the twinkling lights. there is that piece of lace of my wedding gown from 39 years ago held in an embroidery hoop. there is that first bubble nightlight that my son loved when he was little-little. there is that delicate crystal bracelet my sweet momma wore. there are those handkerchiefs my grandmother crocheted, colorful scalloped edges on tiny cloths of linen. and artwork circa 1990s: glittery tissue-paper poofed trees of construction paper, crayon and pencil drawings of me, of family, of flowers, of cars and trucks. stories on pa-pads-paper cut with kindergarten scissors and stapled, stories in notebooks, stories on looseleaf. the cursive script of my mom’s handwritten letters. sugary white ornaments i can still see on our long island christmas trees. the signed fine crystal stemware of my grandparents. the tiniest-tiny graceful bud vase with a handwritten scrap-of-paper note my mom wrote indicating it had been her grandmother’s. the 1943 floral-etched bell my parents got as a wedding gift. what does one do, i wonder.
on rare days i didn’t feel well – you may skip this part if you wish, dear gentlemen – when i had horribly yucky cramps, my sweet momma would pour the tiniest amount of manischewitz into the tiniest green beautifully etched vaseline glass. we’d sit and talk on the couch by the front window and the tiny bubbles of elderberry, a blanket and momma’s care would soothe me. there are six of these vintage glasses and a tray to match. i have no doubt what one does.
one keeps the bubbles and the lace and the crystal and the tulle and art-in-all-its-forms. isn’t that what basements and attics, treasure chests and the old corner cabinet in the dining room are for?
there’s plenty of other stuff that can go.