Saturday, May 31, 2008

Triggers

Memory is a strange beast, like an aloof cat that hides away in the eaves and disappears for a time before popping back into your life, almost magically while you're whiling about the beginning of a new day. You know it's about somewhere because there's the dish, but it's off taking care of it's mysterious business somewhere else, and then on cue, it's there. Feed me. Stroke me a bit. Indulge me. Obsess over me even. You never know what's going to trigger these surprise visits.

Something simple, like the sharp hiss when the can opener penetrates the top of the coffee can... like impaling the gate keeper of the dungeon and he dies with a short gasp. The prisoners rush forth into daylight. That's all it took this morning and I was right back in my mother's kitchen, maybe 6 or 7... and yes I can still remember back that far. The small kitchen with walnut stained cabinets and the scratched ceramic sink and the cat box in the corner. My mother is in her quilted robe and ridiculous fuzzy slippers, looking like she could use a few more hours of sleep, or a vacation, or something.

What's that?
That's air?
Really?
Yes, get your oatmeal.

The smell of coffee, toast... the chill of the morning. It's with me now, weaving about my ankles and jumping into my lap, looking to be petted. I can't really be bothered but it's purring. Perhaps I should. But I don't wish to.

Triggers... I've been tripping one after another since I started thinking about this memoir. Objects, sounds, smells that I would usually take for granted trigger rushes of memory. Not necessarily warm nostalgia either but it's coming home anyway. There are moments over the last month or so when I've wanted to shut the door a bit. Some days this hairy, little bastard will not leave me alone. I should have known it would be like this. Feed it once and it always returns is what they say. Certainly truth in that. Have I mentioned that I'm allergic to cats?

It's been five years since I separated from my wife and moved out. I had packed in an exhausted blur, filling boxes without labeling and moving onto the next. I only recently went through those boxes, exhuming the remains of my former life. In one box--all the paperwork--old bills, resumes, copies of cover letters mailed but never answered, for jobs I'm now happy I didn't get. How desperate was I anyway? Desperate, apparently. Triggers... returning thoughts and emotions. A card from my ex-wife sent at some point months prior to my departure. Renewing vows, pledging love, and words about growing old. The lump in my throat when I read it then... guilt and sadness that I couldn't see until death do us part. The lump now replaced with a tinge of bitterness as I know now she had started the process, taking legal counsel and dallying with bank accounts, quiet cash transfers. It's a short trip to the garbage can where this card will begin its next journey to the landfill where it can rest with the detritus of other lives.

Another card though from my mother, who always remembers birthdays, but this wasn't a birthday card. It was a sympathy card of sorts, reading:

Sometimes life is all sunshine and rainbows.
Other times it's just a steaming pile of crap.
I'm there for you in any case, amigo.

Triggers... the lump returns. So like my mother to find a card like this. This remains my fondest memory of my mother, not one at all given to spontaneous gestures to it means more to me than anything else she's ever said or done. This one goes back into storage in the place that is now far less cluttered and the contents are far more precious and select.

It's only just past 8 a.m. though and I've already spent too much time in my own head. I've gotten things together though. There's a stack of bills on the table with the anemic checkbook awaiting it's monthly blood donation. The garbage is by the door waiting to go outside. The laundry bag is full and waiting. Now if I could just find that fucking cat!

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