August 13, 2011 : Alexis Finch

August 13, 2011 : Alexis Finch

Each time I walk through the dining room, I look at the dominoes on the mantelpiece. I have never played dominoes. I would not know where to begin. I’ve stacked them up, knocked them over a few times, just for good measure. To get a feel for them I suppose, hear how they clatter. But they are not there for use.

They are from that era when plastic was more precious than natural products. Dark brown, reminiscent of wood, embossed poppies curve around each pattern of ivory painted dots. On the back, star lilies wreath each tile.

I have no memory of where or when I found their plain wooden box. I remember opening it that first time, discovering what my mind immediately identified as ‘a rare treasure.’

I knew they’d be right at home next to the plastic elephant and brontosaurus, whose lines stand out to me as something more than children’s toys. They would share space nicely with the black metal Westinghouse fan, never plugged in and used, but kept as an artifact extracted from film noir.

Only a month ago, had you visited my apartment, you would have found a small library of books keeping the dining room table company. Spines out, alphabetized by author, the books shared shelf space with the oddities of my collection. Titles slewed across science fiction and literature, delving into germ theory and the history of advertising. But those books are gone now. Sold off, carted away.

Clothing went too, with more soon to follow. Blouses and sweaters unworn, kept for that one special occasion that never arrived, sent back into the world to find other backs to cling to.

Do you see what is happening here?

I had become an assemblage. That book on the shelf was not so much a story as a reference point to some aspect of my personality. That pile of stones was a testament to travel, for all I couldn’t remember which beach or city they came from. Shoes and clothing? A shorthand of possible identities, options for costumes and parts to play.

So I am cutting back. Pruning. Trimming. Lightening the load.

I have not yet decided on the dominoes.

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About the author: Alexis [@agentfin] sketchnotes tech talks, hosts #LadiesHackNight and produces a pinup calendar. She does UX/brand strategy and rides a Technicolor bicycle.

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    Had to come back and red this lovely piece again. I have never been good at "lightening the load." When I moved in with my wife, one of the movers asked. " How do you move a full house into a full house?" And when I do manage to streamline it seems I always go too far. Somewhere in one of my moves I must have left behind the original hand written translations that are the basis of the "blog" of my mother's letters, Trudel's Truth, http://lgrossman.com/trudel There are far too may gaps in the typescript.

    Still, going through box after box in the basement this weekend, hoping to find my mother's letters, I found many things that should have been let go of long ago. There is a wistful feeling finding notes written 50 years ago, signed love, love, love, and not remembering the correspondent, much less the beach.

    It is a strange feeling creating this blog and posting on the anniversary dates of the original letters and knowing what happens, in outline if not in detail. It is like living in two time periods at once. It is odd to know that my mother "will meet my father" next month.

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    In reply to Leonard Grossman:

    Ohhh. I feel old looking at that post. Would it have been better if I had said "many, many years ago" instead of 50, which was a slight exaggeration. After all, my mother's letters were only written 77 years ago, during a summer in Chicago that was much like this.

    Now back to the basement to look in more boxes. Maybe I'll find that Go set made of real shell and slate if not the letters .. or dominoes.

  • So beautitful, Alexis. You know you can do this.

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