The attic is a scary place where boxes turn in to headless monsters devouring once empty space. And inside those monsters, well, that can be equally daunting. Once you move past the aged smell of something that has been sealed for far too long and the massive amount of black (and white I have discovered) mouse droppings, it's all downhill.
There's endless quantities of outdated clothes, unused kitchen utensils, unopened (regrettable) gifts, worn-out shoes, discarded computer equipment, dead TVs, packaged Christmas decorations, busted lamps, unnecessary nick-knacks, and more and more of the same. Most you fly right by, but there are some objects that require a closer look.
I can't begin to explain how many Hallmark cards can fit into a box about waist high. I believe Veta (Len's mom) kept them in business. Whether it was the sending or the receiving, she did her part in establishing Hallmark as a billion dollar enterprise. It may appear to be just paper, but you have to attach humans to these mailings. Think of those who sent the cards - how they perused the aisle in the grocery store, reading card after card until the right one made them smile. Jackpot! And then, days later, Veta, sitting in her green Lazy Boy, going through the mail, finding a colored envelope and realizing it wasn't a bill. With her trusty letter opener, she slit open the envelope and then magic, a smile from ear to ear. Thoughts from far away! No matter if the occasion was a birthday, a holiday or even a death, a smile was there because someone cared enough to send a card. Not an email, a hand-written card.
And in the old steam truck of mom's, one single greeting card that stood out from all the others: the first Valentine from what would turn out to be one of many during a very long, love affair. He only signed his name, Kimsey, and added no thoughts or phrases. His name was enough. I wonder how many times she read the card while tracing the imprint of his name with the tips of her fingers. Ah, the romantic in me!
When you least expect it, you will find treasures wrapped securely in 1980s newspaper pages. There's the Drag-ula car made by my husband for his pine-wood derby years ago. Wrapped securely in browned paper, hours and hours of work lay in my palm. Before I even knew he existed, he carved it with his hands and crafted it with his heart. Then, there's the SoSewSoldier sewing kit that belonged to Neil, Len's father. He carried this government-issued necessity to France, through Belgium and then home again during WWII. Both will have a new home, free of stuffy air.
Finally, I'm going through a heaping box of towels, dishcloths and crocheted throws and stumble upon a beautiful blush linen tablecloth, complete with eight matching napkins - still in its original box, unused with creases still crisp. As with all things cotton packed away, a wash is required. As I'm tossing the tablecloth in the washer, I read the tag: Made Right in America. Not Made in America, but Made Right in America. Pride jumped off the tag and smacked me in the face. I don't recall seeing that wording ever. I'm sure that in 2011, those aren't the words added to tags on linens or toys or computers or anything else for that matter.
There are lessons to be learned from the attic. Mice can get into any box, I don't care how secure you think it is. Most of us have way too much stuff. Those clothes you wouldn't wear in the 70s will NOT come back in style and even if they did, you wouldn't or couldn't wear them then so you won't wear them now, so get rid of them. Dead TVs and computers are just that, dead. And, when you dig through the clutter, there are gems of lasting worth that must be saved. There are stories of accomplishments and failure, of loneliness and hope, of holidays and dreams - magical seconds of a lifetime made concrete by materials stored in an attic.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.