Monday, July 22, 2013

What I Found under My Daughter's Bed

Yesterday, Robert and I paid a hauler to come and remove my 24-year-old daughter’s few remaining belongings from her room.

Well, actually, more than a few.

Robert and I moved in together about four months after my daughter was graduated from high school.  She had already gone off to college by the time I left the house and the community in which she had grown up.
She was really mad about it.

Really, really mad.

I know this because she told me years later, not because she was exceptionally unpleasant about the whole process as it was occurring.  In point of fact, she was an amazingly good sport, helping to pack up her room, bringing a bunch of new friends home during her first fall break, enjoying our Thanksgiving and holiday traditions with her customary spunk and spirit.  But I now know that she was masking her true feelings, keeping them private, out of my field of vision.

Still, she managed, despite her sadness and anger at me, to build a life here for her late-teenage self.

Here’s some of what I found on the floor under her bed, after the haulers took it away:

A shoe box she had decorated, filled with makeup brushes and bottles of dried-up nail polish;

A crumpled Obama poster (she went to Occidental, where the president went for two years before transferring to Columbia; she campaigned door-to-door for him in Las Vegas with college friends);

A binder full of sheet music from her high-school choir classes;

About four hundred mini Milky Way wrappers;

A small ceramic shoe—a leopard-skin pump—that I had given her when she was a little girl (I used to buy her different styles of these shoes once in a while, as a treat);

A book about origami;

A postcard from her friend Shanna;

Two fuzzy pink slippers that didn’t match.

In the end, I let the haulers take her bed and her dresser and boxes and boxes of clothes.  I kept her bookshelves , at her request.  And her photos.  And her books.  (I don’t give books away, on principle.)  And her stuffed animals, because it’s like I’m still four and they’re still real, and I can’t, I just can’t.

But here’s the weird thing.  The things I found under her bed—the things she seemed to care about least—were the things I found the most moving, the most evocative of her, my little girl who became the most friendly, bubbly, talented, funny teenager and is now a college graduate, living on her own, working hard, paying her own bills.

So I kept those things, too.  (Except for the Milky Way wrappers.  Those I managed to let go.)

Robert and I plan to make the room into a library, an extension of my office, which adjoins it.  But it will be empty for a little while.  And that is fine with me.

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