the ethos of us

A few days ago, a friend helped me load a bunch of stuff from the house onto a U-Haul and take it out to the county landfill (one more move in our ongoing battle against bed bugs). We drove the dusty, bouncy, dirt road to the dump site, watching trash blow across the road before us. We backed into the long row of vehicles all lined up to be relieved of their loads and tossed our stuff out directly behind the truck onto that odd mix of dirt and parts and pieces of someone else’s stuff tossed and bulldozed. The wind tumbled part of a beaten-up scrapbook in the dust at my feet. I turned a few of the pages left—someone’s handwritten memories of a trip to somewhere, some faded pictures. I moved my foot and let the wind take it away.

When we were done and before we pulled out of the line-up and drove off, I took a moment to look at the mound of our stuff, in a long line of mounds of other people’s stuff behind their vehicles, all soon to be bulldozed away. Amidst the junk, there was also the end table that was the last of the furniture I’d had since I first had furniture, the bed frame my wife and I have slept in since we were married, the bed frame that was the conversion from our daughter’s crib and the boxspring and mattress that were my wife’s grandmother’s that went into the crib turned bed frame to comprise our little girl’s first “big girl” bed, the big, comfy sofa on which we snuggled under blankets and napped, on which we curled up and read, on which we climbed and balanced and bounced.

It’s really not the stuff. Not even any particular memories of the stuff. It’s more the way the stuff participates in the ethos of us—of our family—of our history together—our being together—now unceremoniously tossed out in a pile, amongst the trash, to be bulldozed and covered and forever lost to us … while our being together continues—to embue other stuff with the ethos of us.

The priority is appropriate.

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