Trunk in the Attic, by Valentina Rota
There is a trunk in the attic with my past in it. Not all my past: I moved around a lot when I was young. Still, therein lies a cornucopia of experiences, now so distantly removed from my current life, they seem like those of another person.
There is the first cat story I wrote, in fourth grade, about my tabby Two and a far-off land where everyone lived in houses with diamond walls.
There is a sketchbook from my days in Chicago, pages of dark scribble and slashing lines depicting inner city buildings in the shadow of 1968.
There is a photo album from when I was a hippie living on the farm. In some of them I am naked, innocently swimming in a country lake. In some, I’m ensconced with other bell-bottomed, bead-bedecked flower children. In one, I’m playing pool.
Other things have accumulated in that magic trunk as well. A flotsom of greeting cards, letters, notes with a loved one’s name penned longhand nest at the dusty bottom. Some of those loved ones— too many—have been lost along the way.
There used to be diaries in the trunk, but several years ago I shredded them, consigning my youthful craziness to the ash pile. At the time I felt release— no longer bound by my indiscretions. As a writer, I suppose I should regret the loss, but I don’t. I did keep the poems and drawings; the rest was so much hooey.
I think about the trunk from time to time. I’d like to post the pool player photo on Facebook; I’d like to read a birthday card from my grandmother; I’d like to check out the cat story, see if it’s as great as I remember. It’s probably not, but as long as it stays buried in the trunk, I can pretend.
The trunk remains closed. A decade ago, workers redid the attic beams, and in their effort, stacked my trunk underneath a small mountain of other clutter. Every so often, I look at it, gage the amount of work it would take to dig it out, and go away again. It’s on the list, among other jobs to be done... but not in winter because the attic is too cold and not in summer because it’s stifling hot. I can’t do it alone because some of the items are heavy and awkward, yet I don’t want anyone to do it with me. Besides I have no place to put it once I get it out. The dust makes me sneeze.
Someday I’ll want the trunk badly enough to overcome the obstacles. Until then, I can remember. Schrödinger’s trunk: its nostalgic contents can be whatever I decide.
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