Friday, February 18, 2011


I hadn't opened the drawers in that dresser for months. Not since we'd cleaned out what few of his belongings he'd deemed unnecessary enough to leave at my house while he continued to live in his own apartment. We had placed all his things in a single trash bag while I cried hot, heartbroken tears. It's fitting that we used a trash bag to pack up the things he'd left behind over the six years we dated. It felt as though I was throwing away everything by sending him away.

Eight months later, I finally decided it was time to move my own things into the dresser I'd adopted from a friend especially for his clothes, hoping that he would feel more, what? Obligated to move in? Comfortable with the idea of cohabitation? Whatever I had been hoping for, it never happened. And so I pulled out a few of the empty drawers and began transferring socks and tee-shirts and pajamas. When those drawers were full I pulled out another and found myself staring into a pile of stuff I wasn't prepared for. A work uniform, tee-shirts, a sweatshirt.

Sitting there on my knees in front of that drawer, I didn't cry. I didn't hold his shirt to my nose, hoping for a whiff of his scent. I didn't even consider the future I had dreamed up for us, the one that never materialized. Instead, I pulled the clothes out of the drawer and piled them in a box, making room for my own things.

Later, when I was putting away some books, a folded piece of paper floated to the floor. Before I opened it and reread my words, I knew what it was. A letter I wrote to him on the last anniversary we celebrated together. I read it a second time, feeling not sadness or regret, but a lighthearted distance, a gratitude for my ability to love another so deeply and a hope that I'd be writing letters like that once again.

On another day, I opened the closet in the guest room looking for wrapping paper and found a tie he must have missed when folding his suit and adding it to the trash bag. The suit I bought him so he would come with me to the wedding of a friend. I laughed at the memory of the two of us struggling with that tie in the parking lot for so long that we were almost late for the ceremony.

The memories rarely elicit tears anymore. They are facts of my life--nothing more, nothing less. Oh, there is that DVD we watched together on one of our first dates. Here is a plate he borrowed from his mother to bring me dinner one night. A pile of greeting cards I gave him that he never took home to his apartment. A purse, a sweater, a necklace he gave me for this holiday or that celebration. The emotion I once attached to these things has dwindled. The memories have become soft around the edges. Not neutral, but not negative either, and rarely sad.

They are leftovers, plain and simple. Like bread crumbs trailing behind me on the path of my life, they remind me of where I have been. But I leave them there for the birds. I don't need to find my way back.

This post was written in response to the new weekly prompt at The Red Dress Club created to help develop memoir writing skills.

Write a piece - 600 word limit - about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it's so meaningful to you or your character.

Constructive criticism is welcome.


amygrew said...

What a great post! I love that she is kind of removed from the whole thing, even after the surprise of finding a few more things. You expect her to crumble and breakdown. Nice writing!

Cheryl said...

I love that ending. Love it. So perfect, that leaving of breadcrumbs.

The post also took me back to the heartache of a relationship I'd invested much in, let my mind leap to the future together, only to have it fail - and the slow blurring of the edges so it was no longer so painful.

MrsJenB said...

What a beautiful image at the end. Simply and wonderfully stated, it wrapped everything up perfectly.

Lydia said...

I'm happy that these memories have become a part of her life's story but don't have the power to hurt her anymore. And it's so true that even long after a relationship has ended the evidence of it will keep coming to the surface in bits and pieces.

Mel said...

What an honest, beautiful, well written post. I'm glad to hear you are dealing with the past, putting it behind you and moving forward. Good for you!!

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