Once this attic was empty, but entire lives are stored up there now. When we arrived here, 30 years ago, the house was completely empty. At closing, my husband requested that nothing be left behind, and nothing was, so we began with a blank slate. Now, thirty ++ years later, the whole thing is jammed. First, came a set of rustic oak chairs from our Tennessee sojourn and a few end tables. Then, in rapid succession came my grandmother’s stuff—the sad remains that the early bird relatives had deemed unimportant—and then came my mother’s boxes and trunks when she entered a nursing home—and next came his mother’s many photo albums, a huge collection going back into the 1930’s, after she too ended up in “incarcerated”. Sadly, we can’t recognize more than half the people who are posed there, giving us tight New England smiles in those old pictures pictures.
Now all of it gathers dust. Some important boxes filled with memorabilia I would LOVE to find have vanished—gone without a trace when I went back to locate them later. Perhaps they’ve fallen into some Twilight Zone like void that may exist in the upper stories of houses. My husband suggests they've fallen into the same inter-dimensional crease where the lost socks go.
We’ve thought of cleaning it, of sorting through, of discarding most and preserving the few things that might still have some interest and/or value to the next generation. Then summer comes again and we abandon the place for another six months. Next winter, we think, next spring, but somehow it never happens. Our stuff is there, too. A host of coffee mugs emblazoned with the names of once famous and now dead Tech companies, untouched boxes of tractor-feed paper, and woolen tartan skirts made in Scotland made for 70 lb H.S. girl, as well as jackets and note books from 5th and 6th Form English school days—“O” level tide-pool biology and “A” level European History, adjacent to my husband’s brightly colored slacks purchased for 1970’s casual Fridays.
There is a solar bicyclist who no longer pedals, a strobe light from the Roaring Sixties, a trunk full of 78 records (Big Band, Classical, Jazz) which belonged to my mother, and a bust which my brother-in-law picked out of some East Village trash heap back before gentrification had driven out the artists. My huband's gun club trophies are parked on a rickety bookcase.
Deeper in, there are my own manuscripts--a rejection pile--that all writers back in the day accumulated--pages thumbed through and smelling of cigarette smoke. (We went broke mailing the stuff to agents/publishers and then having it sent back via SASE.) I even have a collection of dreary literary criticism from the 1920's simply because they they had my Grandfather Liddle's signature inside them, and I couldn't bear to throw them away.