Friday, January 21, 2011

Caught in Other Nets

I was helping my wife impose ordnung (look it up) on our basement the other day (mostly by staying out of her way). Not surprisingly, she and I have slightly different perspectives on how things are filed, stored and saved. My views on all three are easy to catalog: wrong. All you need do is ask my wife. There's an eye roll and a medium size sigh (I used to only rate a small one) and now, as an added bonus from this sentence onward, will be a vehement denial of the previous two, but don't be deceived.

We've lived in our house for over nineteen years-George Carlin is right, it's a place for your stuff. Our container is very attractive and spacious though the basement where she and I were working is, I imagine, a little like limbo but without all the unbaptized babies' souls (just as well as the dust bunnies are everywhere and there's always something you taste on the end of your tongues that you can't quite place or name).

We've been putting things in the basement from the day we moved in. Obvious items that we weren't yet willing to let go of-appliances that operated on 220 volts and fifty cycles and for which, to use here, you'd need a step up transformer (I have one, make me an offer). There were less obvious items as well, more saved by the heart than the head. Neatly packed with contents listed on the outside of the carton were many of the toys and bric a brac from when our children, now adults, were much smaller.

Makes sense-you never know when a five year old 'Nur Patrick!' or a two year old 'Icky May' will swing by for an impromptu play date (though if my children learn I'm using their pet names, I'll search out my skates since a warm place will have to be frozen over before they'll visit and maybe not even then.)

Some of the items looked like they were in the same boxes we used when we moved from Kasernenstrasse across town to Ahornstrasse in Offenbach (much closer to Stadion am Bieberer Berg by the way; and good luck with construction for the new Kickers stadium. OFC!). Without exchanging a word, I knew we wouldn't be placing any of those on the discard pile (I still have in the garage the chalk board each child wrote on when they they had their erste shultag).

It is amazing what you collect over the years and how much of it you can remember when you see it again (and how much you have NO clue about when reunited). I concede the disquieting part may be how much you become possessed by your possessions. Sigrid had boxes of singles (little records with big holes as I used to call them while she labeled my album collection, big records with little holes) and each dust cover came with a memory and a moment to match.

I think we both knew, and always did, 'putting things in the basement' is code for pretending to remember who you once were even when you're less than comfortable with who you became. Not having to confront that person is a luxury I can afford though I probably enjoy it too much. For a moment we were as we see ourselves instead of as others do and who we really are. I'd chance again without regret, because the moment (however fleeting) seems to linger and abides awhile before disappearing.
-bill kenny

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