Thursday, February 14, 2019

Paragraph to a Broken Relationship

We had nothing except each other. Bisquick pancakes or biscuits for dinner, made in an electric fry pan. Minute Rice and Campbell’s soup. But we didn’t go hungry. Let’s get married, you said in the Montgomery Wards parking lot. So we did. Our wedding and the party afterwards cost $85.00. The silver rings we exchanged netted change from a ten-dollar bill. My ring is black now. Tarnished. 
Just yesterday I sold the new ring you bought me for our 29thanniversary. I think you were already planning your wedding and the new ring was meant to throw me off the trail. A pawnshop wanted the ring. And the pearl and gold earrings you gave me the year our first child was born. Two hundred bucks. I'm glad to have it. But nobody wants the pearls. They’re real, I tell the woman at the jewelry store, the man at the vintage re-sale place, the clerk at the pawn shop. I think they cost six hundred dollars, I say. They smile, sad-eyed. The pawn shop girl takes a pearl between her teeth to test it and shrugs. Pearls aren’t a big seller for us, she says. 
Nobody wants those pearls. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How to Store Your Photos or The Incredible Lightness of Being Divorced

Our holiday dinner table one of the last years of marriage.
Things weren't nearly as perfect as they look here--but it's a very pretty photo.

I was thrown out of my life in 2007. He wanted the house, he said, so he could raise his new family there. So I left, blubbering something about how I was taking the photo albums. The picture below doesn't quite do the situation justice. I think I moved 41 albums to my new place. And when I moved again a couple of years later, I packed up those albums again.

When the second round of devatating fires here in Southern California coincided with the realization that I can no longer afford my current house due to a reduction in my alimony, I knew it was time to crack open the covers on the record of my seemingly perfect life. We don't take pictures of the terrible times, do we?-- the creeping doubt and desperation--and I suppose if we did, I'd have happily left those photo albums behind. Though I wasn't evacuated during the fires, I could see the flames from my windows. If I'd had to leave, would I have had time to pack up a hundred pounds of albums? Probably not.

the old albums (the salvageable ones) now empty

the new photo boxes with an album on top for size comparison

Marie Kondo says she prefers to store her photos in albums, but I'll bet she doesn't have 40 of them. Or 20. Or even 10. Why do we Americans have so much of everything? I think photo albums are cumbersome for sharing in a group. Everyone has to huddle around, crane their necks, and hope the photos don't slip out of the pages if you're passing the album from person to person. These books weigh a ton when filled with photos so you need two hands and have to put down your drink. It seems easier to me to just grab a stack of pictures and pass them.

These boxes hold over a thousand photos each and have index cards where you can write the year, the subject, the place, and even make special notes or comments. The company doesn't provide nearly enough cards, but I just made copies on card stock. I made two boxes for myself, incorporating my mom's old photos as well. And I made two boxes for each of my daughters, which I will hand deliver to them when I move to Minnesota in a few months. Meanwhile if a wall of flames races from the hills to the ocean, I can get these into the Prius in two trips.

Aren't you wondering what I did with the photos of The Someone and of us a couple? I put the nicest specimens in the daughters' boxes. And all the photos of his lovely family were put into a Christmas box and mailed to his office last month. His likeness does not make an appearance in my photo boxes, but he did take a lot of the pictures. I'm grateful for that. And I'm grateful for the experience of looking at the photos--of seeing those new babies, birthday parties, proms, graduations, family vacations, and friends with their heads thrown back in laughter. I think when we take pictures, or put them in a book or a box, we are recording love.