This I Believe

Katherine - Annapolis, Maryland
Entered on December 1, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: place

I believe everything has its place

I believe everything has its place. My husband and I have baskets for toys, for toilet paper, for magazines; still, ours is a busy house and things tend to wander onto wood floor. Our order tilts and spills over on occasion. There are pictures strewn on the refrigerator, postcards from long-time-ago trips, and Christmas cards with smiling nieces who’ve since grown a lot older. There’s a spot for recipes on an antique piece I bought with my mother when I first left college, but cookbooks lean in all directions, buffered by dishtowels and baby bibs. Everything has its place, though; I know where things belong.

There’s a place for envy. Sometimes I toss mine around like the water bottles in my car before finally landing them in the recycling bin. There are plenty of people in neater, bigger homes who really seem to have their stuff together. Sometimes I let jealousy nudge—an elbow on an armrest. But then, sometimes, I stumble upon a memory from my first year teaching. A young girl in Brooklyn wrote on the dream bulletin board: “I would like to go down south with my father and grandfather. I would like to live down there because you can’t get killed or shot by anyone. I would like to fly in an airplane. I would like to leave in the summertime.” I think of the dream board and pack envy away.

There’s a place, too, for sorrow. When I am feeling messy and out of sorts, I let the sadness of missing my mother seep in. Some moments are so simply retrieved and I can get lost in them, thinking of her last days, of watching her reach up from her bed and brush my sister’s hair out of her eyes, complimenting the length. I remember that as clearly as the feel of balm on my fingers as I spread it on my mother’s lips. I hear the noise of the oxygen machine as clearly as the gasp and release of my own breath when I walked outside after assuring my mom that we would be alright without her. Sorrow can clutter and encumber; it needs to be put in its place.

There is so much good out there to pack into our short lives—there is also a gasp and release of breath that comes with bellowing laughter. There is a cool find at a tucked-away antique store. There are connections to make, lives that lean into each other. There are children—mashed carrots on my daughter’s cheek and the magic of hearing her soft chatter spill over into our room as we first awake. There is a place for joy that is as wide as the space between stars, and it needs filling.