all of the selves we Have ever been
There are some stains we treat and scrub.
We want them OUT.
But there are others that become part of the fabric of our lives. Unexpected souvenirs of people, times, and experiences we cherish. We want them to remain FOREVER.
I began the day searching for my light gray sweatpants, the ones with the white paint stains on the knees. My Saturday clothes. I had things to do.
The paint stains are a happy reminder of living in Missouri and helping a friend to prepare his new home for move-in day. It was a different Saturday as we stirred paint, filled trays, and loaded the rollers. We worked across the room from each other sharing stories and anticipating the new life my friend would have in the freshly painted rooms. A year later, I would bring a little of my friend with me when I returned to my home in Ohio. The stains on my sweats remind me of that pleasant paint-filled Saturday and a kind and faithful friend.
As I prepare my breakfast, I see the blue and white enameled butter dish with the worn finish. A hint of rust hides under the lid. The loop of a handle has a dark spot where I place my thumb. I imagine my grandmother holding this butter dish in her hands and lifting the lid. It is her thumb that wore the spot on the handle. For a moment, my Sita is present with me in my kitchen.
I sit in my rocking chair to sip some morning tea. My bottom slides over the well-worn seat helping to erase the wood’s finish. The arms are worn as well. Rocking the chair back and forth, I remember the purchase of this chair from an Amish furniture store. It is the chair in which I rocked both of my babies to sleep each night. Worn as it is, I don’t care to have it refinished. I don’t want to disturb my memories of that tired mother or of those sleeping babies.
On the wall adjacent to my rocking chair is a plate rack that contains four angel plates. Each white plate is decorated with the colorful image of an angel in a distinctive pose. One angel is ringing a bell, another holding a star. A third is playing a harp. The last angel is releasing a dove. The last plate was broken into several pieces during a move. I glued it together. On close inspection, the repair can be seen, but I don’t care. The plate stays. It is part of a set--a set of plates, and a set of friends. Some of my dearest friends, godparents to my children, gave me those plates on a Christmas day long ago. The plate rack was a find during an adventure with a new friend who has entered the ranks of dearest friends.
I go to the storage cupboard for a box and spot a battered suitcase. It is very large. I never use it, but my baby girl, Emily, took it on a trip to Europe. She was in college and the first of our family to travel abroad. The suitcase still has the tags from her trip. Emily turned thirty this year, but I retain a piece of her youth in a suitcase in my closet.
There are other scuffs, stains, cracks, and chips that fill my home—a child’s greasy hand prints, scuff marks from little feet. Blood stains from boo-boos. Chipped dishes from dropped spoons.
I cherish all of these reminders of a life lived and of people loved. Scuffed, stained, cracked, or chipped, I want them IN. FOREVER.