By Sue Murphy
I’m not afraid to go in my attic. Sure, spiders and misguided insects occasionally have to be rerouted, but my attic wouldn’t be considered a good setting for “Psycho 6: Grandma Rises.” The room is pretty tidy, if I do say so myself. Still, there are things lurking in the shadows that I’d rather not deal with. Nothing tawdry or embarrassing (I’m not that interesting.), just flotsam and jetsam that needs to be jetted (or flotted) somewhere else.
I’m having a hard time with that. It reminds me of a scene from “Pee Wee Herman’s Great Adventure” where our bow-tied hero rushes in to save animals in a burning pet shop. He rescues the puppies. He goes back in and rescues the bunnies. He brings out armloads of kittens and gerbils and fish (in a tank), but each time he goes back in the building, he passes a terrarium filled with snakes. He knows that eventually he will have to save them, too, but he puts it off until the very last pass.
There are snakes in my attic, my friends, things I keep passing by, knowing full well that I’ll have to deal with them sooner or later. One side of the attic holds tubs of seasonal decorations, neatly labeled and in their place. The shelves store my girls’ old china tea sets and boxes of memorabilia from their childhoods. Just under the eaves is a lineup of my daughter’s old karate tournament trophies, some that were bigger than she was at the time. All this can stay.
The attic middle ground, however, is filled with snakes. There’s a highchair I need to get rid of, but that’s just a matter of putting it in the back of the car and taking it to the Salvation Army drop off. The rest of the stuff is still either beautiful or useful, just not to me, things that once were perfect someplace in my house and now are not. There’s a big bluish vase that once sat on the hearth filled with branches that became a liability when the grandchildren arrived. There’s a ceramic Italian villa cookie jar that is cute as it can be but no longer works in my kitchen. There are pottery jars and baskets that once had secure positions around the house but were ousted in a redecorating run.
An adjunct closet holds my mother-of-the-bride dresses. Will I wear them again? Probably not. My mother-in-law bought a fur stole at a garage sale (It has someone else’s initials sewed in the lining.) that hangs under a pillowcase cover. She was very proud of it and happy for me to have it, but I am a dyed-in-the-wool animal person and would never (never) wear it. Why do I keep these things, and yet, how can I let them go? My grandmother’s crocheted tablecloth, my Fairy Godmother cape, Harold’s old tuxedo… who am I kidding? I’m never getting rid of those.
Still, they’re all snakes. Unlike the gnats I talked about a few weeks ago, the path of these objects is not clear. It’s not just a matter of going someplace or gluing something or making a directed phone call. These things are weighed down with memories. I have to decide where they belong in my life, if indeed they do, and if they don’t… well, I will just have to let them go.
I’ll deal with everything one day, I promise, but it won’t be today. Today is meant for puppies and kittens and gerbils. Tomorrow? We’ll see. Maybe snakes. Maybe not. ❖