About once a month I walk out to the storage closet on the far side of my patio, usually with a little fear and trepidation.
I tentatively crack open the door, and then jump to the side as half a dozen empty cardboard boxes come tumbling to my feet.
They used to hold the warranteed (new word?) appliances in my studio, and even though I’ve lived here for two years I can’t get rid of them. Not yet.
Who knows but that my food processor will go on the fritz, or my electric kettle will give one last feeble whistle, and I’ll have to pack them up and return them, and wish I had their original boxes. So I keep them. I like to be prepared in the face of disaster. Which would explain why I have exactly eleven cans of corn in my pantry, and a golf ball and pair of pliers in my purse. Because, well, you just never know.
When the boxes have settled, I shuffle through the rubble and step into the closet, apologizing to any spiders I may accidentally step on. Gardening has cultivated in me a strange affinity for daddy long legs. At my feet are the bags of recycling I need to take down to the collection center. To my right are stacks of plastic bins.
I swipe my finger across the dusty top of a bright purple bin, and then pop off its lid and peer inside. There are piles of picture books and math manipulatives leftover from the years I taught third grade. I smile, and, of course, remember.
I remember how I wrapped a red fleece blanket around my shoulders and fastened it on with a paper clip one afternoon when the AC was too high. My students looked up from their writing, chortled with glee, and started calling me Super Jackson.
And so we did all sorts of heroic things together that year, like jump over chairs, squash mosquitos, and work division problems that took up the whole.entire.whiteboard.
I’m chuckling now, and my mind is racing, tripping over memories lying in dusty piles.
The cardboard boxes at my feet remind me of the time I had a to carry a flattened box from my classroom to the school office during recess. I remember the little feet scampering across the pavement, and bright eyes wide with desire.
“Can we help, Miss Jackson, can we?!”
The box can’t weigh more than three pounds, but I tell them of course they can help because I love 'em, and I like having them around. And so ten little hands grip and hoist, and together we waddle slowly across the playground.
As we shuffle I’m thinking about the days I grip and hoist and feel the weight of the world on my shoulders—the days I’m convinced God can’t do without me, and boy, if I fail him life will crumble to a million little pieces like the first loaf of gluten-free bread I ever made. And then it hits me all over again that he doesn’t need me to change the world, but includes me in the world-changing work he’s already doing because he is generous, and good, and keen to be near me.
And gosh, what was it I came to get from the closet, again?
My suitcase. That’s right. Because I’m flying to my parents’ house in Vancouver, Washington. And so I move aside the case for the guitar I’m learning to play, and reach for the sage green suitcase way in the back.
And then I push my memories back into the closet, and lug my suitcase into my breezy studio across the patio bricks warming quickly in the California sun.
© by scj