Aha! Jackpot! It was the one time I was truly thankful that my mom was a pack rat.
She had long since moved out of my childhood home, whittled her life’s belongings into a more curated (but still large) collection of boxes, but she insisted on dropping a clear storage tub of my memorabilia at my new house. A storage tub that almost went directly to my dumpster, but instead had a stay of execution and was relegated to my basement.
I’ve always hated the question: “If there was a fire and you could only grab one handful of possessions, what would you take with you?”
As a Libra, I’m exhaustively indecisive. As an optimist, I try not to think about these doomsday scenarios. And though I may be a trader by profession, I don’t tend to think well on my feet. So naturally, I never had a good answer.
Until the day last year when I whimsically decided I wanted to take a walk down memory lane and read my old poetry. And I couldn’t friggin find it. Anywhere. And I just about ransacked everything looking for it. It occurred to me then that although I hadn’t so much as looked at it in 10+ years, I might have finally figured out what I would take with me. After my children and my collection of photos, my prized possession was my poetry, and luckily, it wasn’t gone forever.
It’s a pink psychedelic spiral journal. No idea of how I came to own it or baptize it the sacred holder of my most cherished thoughts, but without much work I can recall it’s pattern, it’s smooth waxy texture, it’s veritable substance in the palm of my hands.
It’s not where the poems were conceived of course. Those were scribbled in the columns of my college ruled loose leaf notebooks while I day dreamed in Geometry class, staring at the back of Sean Packer’s head, or jotted furiously with multiple crippling cross outs on a napkin as I sat alone in the cafeteria, annoyed with the world on my free period in high school. I wasn’t truly an angry loner, but I was angst ridden and creative and just plain deep in those days. The poetry spewed out of me like the hallway water fountain (there were no S’Well bottles back then). It was as raw as my worst lazy-teen sunburn (there were so many). Once it was perfectly rhythmed and rhymed, I transcribed it into my beloved poetry book.
Even now when I crack it open, the words ring inside my head with the familiarity of my social security number, my address, the ABC’s, I read them with pride for the artist I was to become. The force of my unfurling teenaged mind, the passion for the frustrated frantic feelings they illustrated still blow me away.
There are poems about love, made up love of course, because I didn’t know of such things. There are poems about friendship- faithful friends, those we grow out of, those who were never truly mine. There are poems about pain, which I still feel acutely when they take me back to that time and those circumstances- while I am thankful now for how I got here, my life didn’t always feel quite as charmed.
So that’s it- my prized possession. The thing I would take with me. My poetry book, my deepest thoughts, dreams, and wishes from my most vulnerable years of life. Not a pathetic moments of a youth long since lived, but rather a reminder of the writer I wanted to become. Still such a fresh feeling from within. It’s been dormant inside me for almost 20 years. I no longer have a penchant for iambic pentameter, but I still have the prose percolating within my mind. And I may not be writing fervently in a frilly pink notebook, but typing feverishly on a commuter train feels just as fulfilling as it did back then.
What is your prized possession???