I have been torn away from blogging for a few days, mostly due to my inability to suck it up and get out of the winter doldrums I seem to have fallen into. Since I couldn’t manage to find anything to do other than whine, I just didn’t write at all.
Usually I approach the end of the year full of joy and looking forward to the growth season that passing the Solstice represents. I am not used to having the holiday blues that so many people suffer from, and so it was a shock to me to find myself laboring under that set of feelings.
I suppose having Jim down under the weather has something to do with it. And our funds are not as fully flowing as they have been in the past. I hate that the county feels compelled to make our property taxes due six days after Christmas. I’m too big of a tightwad to pay them late, so this year in particular has compelled us to be circumspect. There were several unexpected and unplanned chunks of money extracted from us this year. Thank heavens medical bills were not one of them!
Anyway, I am happy and excited that one of my best friends ever is coming to spend a few days with me next week. She has never been to this house, and has never walked the labyrinth. I have visited her several times, and now it is her turn to come here. She will be here for the Solstice Bonfire, and I am pumped.
However, this means that I have to get a guest room ready for her. It has been a while since I mucked out the room I intend for her to stay in. It has become our “box room”, and has a desk I don’t use, two book cases full of books, and all the boxes of clothes and books that Jesse has sent home from his Army life for the past couple of years. Oh, and we have a couple of cases of wine back there. Or I should say, had — the cases are there but the wine has been consumed.
So, I went back there to try to render some order, and started to go through the desk so we can get it out of the room. In addition to a collection of about 10 champagne corks, every one carefully labelled with a date, I came across this:
This pen represents why it is so hard for me to clean house effectively. I have “things”, things that are loaded with meaning and symbolism, things that I can’t bear to part with.
This is a very nice Cross pen. It no longer functions because the mechanism that rolls the ball point ink filler in and out has been used so many times it is completely worn out. So I ought to just pitch it out, right?
So why haven’t I?
Let’s see. My brother gave me this pen in a very nice pen/mechanical pencil set as a gift to commemorate my graduation from High School. That was 1971. The mechanical pencil disappeared in the mists of time during some move or other. The pen ceased functioning correctly about 4 years ago, and I put it in the center drawer of my desk rather than throwing it away.
It is a slender thing, well built and designed. I used it all through my college years to take notes in class. How many calculus problems, organic chemistry equations, history facts, outlines for papers were written by this pen? I don’t know, but it was a lot.
Then, after I graduated from college, the pen became my checkbook pen. It resided in the fold of the checkbook cover, and every time I wrote a check, that pen got used to do it. When I look at that pen, I see literally hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing through it from my (and my husbands’) accounts over the years. Pete and I built an entire house, and every expenditure was paid for by that pen. Jim and I have purchased more than one house. Every mortgage payment was made by that pen. A 1976 Saab, a Dodge Colt, a 1994 Saturn, a 1983 Honda Accord, a 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue were paid for using that pen.
God alone knows how many groceries, power bills, and utility bills were paid for using that pen. There are pieces of art, wooden spoons, furniture, kitchen equipment, clothing I no longer have, my wedding dress, veterinary visits for cats and dogs long dead that are symbolized to me by that pen.
Once Pete rolled our Saab. We took it to a body shop to have the dents beaten out of it and the glass replaced. When I paid for that work, I laid my pen down on the counter of that shop, and forgot it. I called the guy a few days later when I figured out where I must have left it. He looked and looked for it, and could not find it. I found a different pen to put in my checkbook, but it just didn’t feel right.
About two months later, I got a call at work. It was the guy at the body shop. He had found my pen, would I like it back? Yes indeed, I would. So I ran down there after work, and he extracted it from his tool box and presented it to me with his apologies and compliments. It seems that someone had been at his shop shortly after me, and had absconded with my pen. That same person had come back a couple of weeks later to pick up his repaired vehicle, with my pen in his pocket. The body shop guy snatched it right out of that man’s shirt pocket and scolded him severely for stealing something that wasn’t his. Then he put the pen in his tool box so it wouldn’t get lost, and forgot about it until he had been scrabbling around looking for an allen wrench, and come across it.
To this day, that pen bears a dent in the barrel where his tools marked it. The chrome is nearly worn off it where the acids of my fingers collected over the years. It has patina of age. It carries a huge karma with it. Can I throw it away?
Apparently, not yet. When I die, and my heirs are sorting through the detritus of my life, will they have any idea why this broken, worn pen is still in my desk drawer?