Friday, August 27, 2010

Trash or Treasure?

Over the summer I worked on clearing out the clutter and organizing our house. In the midst of it I went on a binge and bought a dozen storage containers for our crawlspace. My girls' outgrown clothes filled up most of those. But two remaining containers seemed perfect for storing the keepsakes DH and I each had stashed away in old cardboard boxes.

This week, as my daughters worked to shift some of their treasured things into storage, I finally transferred my keepsakes to the container. It was fun looking through the odd assortment of toys, awards, and other momentos as I worked. I found my cloth frontier doll, Mary, with her faded dress and redrawn face. And the "My Friend, Mandy" doll that I didn't get until high school (after wanting her for years), looking barely worse for the wear after several decades in a box. There were old journals and class photos. Florist cards and address books. Letters and programs. My Romper Stompers, now too small for my own children, joined the collection.

At the bottom though, I discovered a softball trophy. The placard read "Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Juniors Softball 1979 - 2nd Place". I remember that team. Our color was orange. I played right field. Apparently I'd joined a decent team. After all, they did take second place.

The next day I threw that trophy out. I don't know why I had kept it, other than that it was a trophy. I don't like playing softball now. And I don't recall liking it then. I didn't play very well, so the trophy said nothing about me and my abilities. Nor about my interests in childhood. Just that I'd played on the second place juniors softball team. Not the first place team even, but second. Runners up. Did it really ever matter, even back then?

I explained this to my daughters when they asked why I would throw it out. They nodded in understanding.

"It's like our participation medals we get in soccer," Timid Daughter said. "It doesn't mean we did anything, just that we played soccer." She scrunched past me into the crawlspace to put her participation medals into her own keepsake container.

I wonder if she'll wait until she is my age before she throws them away.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A New Drink Poured

It's here! That day is here that I have been looking toward for... okay, I'm not going to embarrass myself by saying how long, let's just say a long time. Today my baby started first grade, which in our school district is the beginning of full-day school. I'm home alone!

What's that you say? You already knew this because you could hear the whoops & hollers for miles around? No, no, couldn't be. That wasn't me you were hearing at all. So did I sob when I watched my baby walk into the school instead? Well, not exactly.

It's a tumbler-full of emotions kind of day. The Uber-princess, who had been counting down the days and then hours until school started, turned at the last moment and clutched my hand. She pulled me down to her for another kiss before joining the line marching into school. Excitement and hesitation stirred into one for her in that moment. Later, as I wiped the kitchen counter, I sorrowed over how it would be empty come lunchtime. But I also felt nearly lightheaded over the freedom afforded to me by the absence of children for six-and-a-half hours. Exuberance and nostalgia swirled together in another emotional cocktail.

I'm guessing it will continue to be so for our family until we settle into our new routines. LMH started junior high today, with a similar mixture of apprehension and enthusiasm. I think it's a very human response to newness. We revel in the thought of possibilities, the future a brimming pitcher of unsampled potential. Yet we also shrink back toward the familiar, the comfortable. Thankfully, the newness can become comfortable without losing potential. And so we all plunge forward into a new school year, hopeful, excited and yet equally sentimental.

How about you? Are you one for whom Fall and a new school year represents possibility with it's sloshed-together mixture of feelings? Or has it all become a blur, one month pouring into the next, the same drink day after day?