The other day, I dutifully checked in on the Ex Wife’s literary efforts, not just because I’m nuts but because they are so breathtakingly stupid. I always come away feeling both gratified and enraged.
I can’t help it! She writes a monthly column for her community paper. If it wasn’t there, I wouldn’t need to read it. But it is there. Like Mount Everest.
So the column this month is about packing up when a fire forces you to evacuate. You don’t have much time and there is limited room in the car.
What stuff would you take if you only had a small suitcase?
The stuff she packed was nothing special: “the important papers, and the photos, my doll, the few pieces of good jewelry, family videos.”
I guess the doll is a little suspect and who still says “good jewelry” but let’s move on.
Safely back at home, she removes the precious things she had stuffed into a washer and dryer, and here’s where the fun begins.
My old volumes of Shakespeare, heavy and dark with wisdom,
A collection of glittered Advent calendars holding all the magic of the season,
The Happy Birthday banner handmade by my father,
A pink sequin dress, old family bible, my Beatle cards.
One shabby, brown flannel shirt, well worn and shared by everyone in the family.
Miranda’s report on Ground Squirrels, complete with illustrations.
An Anniversary card from a man who loves me still.
A popsicle stick-framed picture of a guru, the Batman book, Riley’s small handprint,
The copy of, “An Actor Prepares,” that Cindy gave me all those years ago,
A Smashing Pumpkins tee shirt, a stuffed pink pig named Peddly,
Mike’s old surf jacket.
And a faded needlepoint from my mother, reading,
“Dear House, You Are Really Very Small, Just Big Enough For Love, That’s All.”
Jesus Christ. I can’t even.
How does a person get to be so enchanted with their own self?
I believe this is the key to my fascination. It is unfathomable. And so awful.
I asked my sister what she’d pack if she was in a hurry to evacuate. Her answers were reassuringly normal. Photographs and family mementos.
My husband’s answer was thrillingly concise: Instead of a suitcase, he’s take a guitar case, and a guitar. I could not love him more for this.
Me, I’d take the photos and the things I sleep with. I’d throw all my jewelry into a pillowcase, and if there was time, I’d take my hard drive.
I couldn’t manage to be poetic and nostalgic about my itemized stuff. And believe me, I tried, on the phone with my sister. I’m just not enough of an idiot, say what you will about me.
Now! What stuff would you take, and for extra points, try to emulate the Ex’s lovingly descriptive tone.