Going through years-old photos, ticket stubs, letters, and notes gives a body a strange nostalgic weight. The reminder that you lived all that time and loved all those people has a physical remainder — these things. These things you are sorting, some of which will end up in a landfill, some of which will make art, some of which will go back into the box or tin to be rediscovered the next time you move (which will hopefully be never).
The tuft of cotton he forced me to pick alongside the highway the very first time I visited him in North Carolina. He goaded me get out of the car, run to the edge of the field, grab a tuft of someone’s ripe crop. And I did it because I’d never seen cotton in person before, not as anything other than clothing I purchased in a store. The tuft hung from my rearview mirror for the duration of our relationship, two more years. It stays.
The letters she wrote me when they were first starting to date, when she was borderline obsessed with my friendship and I was too insecure and alone to recognize her instability. She sounds manic in every single one. They go.
The Jump, Little Children burned CDs she sent me in 2003, along with a few letters she had accrued over the course of months. We’ll meet for the first time this year, when she comes to the east coast for grad school. It stays.
The pictures of my first love with our cockatiel, Sebastian. The last phone conversation we had was after Sebastian died; he wanted to know what year we’d gotten him, so he could calculate his age and decide whether he’d been a good bird-father. I Google his full name and try to find him in the internet white pages so I can mail the images without disturbing his new life. They go.
It has not been ruled out, but we are certainly in no rush. Our life rules as it is. I do, however, think he would be an amazing father.
This is my third anonymous question, like ever, so I am kind of tickled to answer this.