April 17, 2019

It had been a task I’d been putting off for as long as I can remember: cleaning the kitchen cabinets inside, outside, and upside. After all, while the outside of the cabinets had been cleaned from time to time since our arrival here in Arizona more than fifteen years ago, I had never gotten around to emptying out and cleaning the insides. Ugh. Here’s a pic of our kitchen so you know what I’m talking about:

I’m guessing, like most folks, we have several “go to” cabinets that contain the most-used stuff, like pots and pans and the like. But then (also like most folks, I gather) you have those cabinets that become the dumping ground for all kinds of assorted stuff that you end up either never using again or completely forgetting about – kinda like the household equivalent of a black hole. For us, it has always been the furthest cabinet on the upper right. Below the countertop, that’s where you can find glass vases of various shapes and sizes from the many wedding anniversaries and Tracey birthday observances over the years. Above the counter? Well, I couldn’t even begin to tell you what was even in there. Mostly because I seldom had a need to get anything from there due to its proximity furthest away from the cooking area. It was never used for any kind of cookware, so over the years whatever was put in there (outside of the trash bags) was pretty much ignored.

After the New Year, it was my resolution to clean the kitchen from top to bottom, including the inside of all cabinets. I had a feeling that, like most people undertaking a similar goal, I would find some things I really didn’t want to see in the deepest, darkest regions of my cabinet space. (Which I did, BTW, but there’s no need to go there.) Nevertheless, out came the plastic gloves and cleaning agents, believing that, in the end and once it was over and done with, I’d find the whole experience freeing and rewarding, with a kitchen that was top-to-bottom clean.

There really wasn’t any rhyme nor reason as to where I started – the Saturday I chose to start the day was sunny and the air clean and cool, so I opened the patio doors and chose the top right-hand side (nearest the doors), figuring I’d work the kitchen in a deliberate fashion from right to left. I opened the cabinet and after pulling the trash bag box I noted first a cardboard box marked “FRAGILE!”. I took the box out and gave it a bit of a shake (big mistake, as it turned out) and laid it on the island countertop. Opening the flaps I saw what looked like three shirts wrapped around an object of some kind. Imagine my surprise at pulling the first t-shirt out and two immediate observations:

1. The t-shirt was from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee – one of the schools I had been hoping to attend for my Masters in Divinity degree during my pursuit of being ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church.
2. The presence of beach sand on the countertop.

“What the hell?”, said I, suddenly realizing there was something of an unusual shape in the box. I carefully removed a second t-shirt (and with it, more sand) – another reminder of the four years we had spent in Kentucky between 1998-2002 and the following 1 1/2 years we lived in Milford, Mass. just prior to our move to Arizona. Removing the final t-shirt which served as a covering, I let out a gasp.

“Oh wow!” I had completely forgotten about a sea sculpture I believe (frequent commenter Jana will help me here) our good friend from Kentucky Jana gave to us as a gift before we left for Massachusetts.

It was beautiful, and something I had completely forgotten we had. I’m sure we had put it up in that cabinet when we first moved here, simply because we were so focused on getting all our important, daily-use stuff where it was going to be, figuring we’d find a place for it when everything else got settled before completely forgetting about its very existence.

Looking at the sea sculpture and the Sewanee shirt, my mind was flooded with memories, some good, some more bittersweet. More than anything, however, a real sense of melancholy came over me at just how much time had passed. I thought about what life was like when the box had been packed, the air from that time and moment sealed inside the box along with the sea sculpture and the t-shirts. Heck, I was in my late ’40s then, a whole lifetime seemingly ahead of me. My mom was alive and full of life, still living with my dad in their Lowell, Mass. condo. While seniors, my parents were still fairly young seniors and doing all the things they enjoyed doing together – going out to eat and going to the Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun casinos every month, playing cards with my Auntie Marge and my Uncle Don every Saturday night.

Now, more than fifteen years later, Mom is gone, and Auntie too. I’m 63, and I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks – at this point in life there’s really not a whole lot of new and exciting things to look forward to. Oh, there will come retirement (perhaps sooner than I’d like), and working on my golf game and not having to deal with all the bullshit at work is something worth looking forward to, I suppose. But I also know damned well that there’s bound to be some medical issue that arises that isn’t going to be pleasant, something that will make me long for days long passed – not wasted, I don’t think, not unappreciated at the time, neither – just days that were far better than they will be at some future point in time (hopefully later than sooner!).

Which is all life is, when you get right down to it – just time tick-tick-ticking away, and just a little faster every year.

But enough about things and events one can neither control nor foresee. I’ve put the sea sculpture on my bathroom vanity, just a foot or so away from the seashell tray filled with little seashell-shaped soaps that had sat on my parents’ bathroom countertop in the apartment they moved into not long after we moved out here in Arizona. I’d always liked it, and I brought it here to Arizona when my dad didn’t have room for it in the bathroom of the studio apartment he moved into last year. Together these cherished objects provide a daily reminder of times long passed – good times, I think, even if at the time I may not have thought the life and/or the situation I was in felt that way.

I guess that’s what time in its inevitable rite of passage does best – helps you remember the good times, forget the bad. Or, perhaps, what you thought was bad at the time that really wasn’t that bad after all. It’s just the ebb and flow of life, right? And its moments like the one that Saturday afternoon that made me realize just how long a road it has been that I’ve traveled, both physically (and metaphysically).

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:20 | Comments (4)
  1. I remember that bit of sea art. What a sweet surprise for you to find it.

    Comment by Jana — April 17, 2019 @ 2:02 pm

  2. Make your pictures not to go sideways

    Comment by Jana — April 18, 2019 @ 1:29 pm

  3. ahh…not sure what you’re talking about, Jana – sorry. The pics look OK to me. What are you seeing?

    Comment by The Great White Shank — April 18, 2019 @ 5:52 pm

  4. I see them sideways

    Comment by Jana — April 20, 2019 @ 7:48 am

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