My work office is a mess. I moved out of the old one and into the new in August, in media res: trying to pack, unpack, plan, and start a new semester all at once. However, the most immediate chores always win the Bitty's Time Sweepstakes, so the clutter just keeps cluttering.
Little by little I unpack and rearrange: a pile, a box, an envelope here and there. I recently came across an envelope of photos that were formerly taped to my old office's wall and in them was a particularly beloved one of Grammie and her lifelong friend Reeney (who deserves a post all of her own someday), taken in my kitchen on May 20, 1995. (I know this because once upon a time I properly labeled my photos...). At the time, Grammie was a robust 82; Reeney was a few years older. I propped the photo in front of the monitor.
Looking at it today, I realized that it really is a record of the past: Reeney died in 1998, Grammie last year. I threw away the miniblinds a few months ago, and the chairs the ladies are sitting in now wait in my living room for me to take them to the local women's shelter thrift store this weekend. The only tangible objects in the photo still in my life are the door handle that peeks out from behind the blinds, the coffee mug in front of Reeney, and the blouse Grammie is wearing. (I kept a suitcase full of her blouses, a time capsule that comforts me even though I haven't opened it once since I packed it over a year ago.)
The things and people that surround us seem so permanent because we see them day after day.
And then suddenly we look around and everything is different.