Athens, GA, 2008
Item: A receiver and speakers. A gift from my mother on some graduation from some place somewhen in the 90s. The technology seemed quaint in 2008 for someone with an iSomething and a virtual stack of CDs. I kept the five-disc changer. I hardly use it now: the CDs skip when I dance in the living room.
I miss the radio, though. Didn’t expect that.
Natchitoches, LA, 2001
Item: Mah Jongg. We played, my girls and me, most Sunday afternoons when their kids were quiet and the table was laden with forbidden treats and the tiles gently clicked and clacked on the smooth wood of a dining room table. I found other groups in other spaces—women and men with whom I formed a sort of surrogate family—but you were the first of my adult life.
I keep the sparrows you gave me at my kitchen window, though. Thought you’d want to know.
Birmingham, AL, 1997
Item: my best friend. I didn’t get it, not really, not until I was in a new (to me) home with a long wooden porch and tall, tall trees that cast long shadows over the whole place and kept it oh-so-cold. I could never get warm, and there was a day when I felt such great loss and emptiness that I lay on the bed and wept and missed your strength and wisdom.
We still keep in touch, and you’re still my best friend, and I miss you.
Houston, TX, 1994
Item: insane street layout and impossible traffic.
Lafayette, LA, 1993
Item: a small wooden box. I think I left behind so many of these, peeling off so many layers of so much skin. I don’t know if you kept them. I just know that I gave them—freely, openly, lovingly—and I trust that you did with them what they deserved.
I suppose that’s all we can ever expect when we leave.