• A postcard from my sister, Brigitte’s campaign for Trustee of the Portland Water District (she won)
• An invitation to Rip’s (first) wedding at Ear Inn, in which his and his bride’s faces are superimposed on a picture of two samurai warriors. Or are they meant to be Don Quixote and Sancho Panza?
• A color Xerox self-portrait of my late ex-husband in a dinner jacket, a velvet bow tie and naked from the waist down
• A letter from Alex from the hospital when he was paralyzed from the waist down, about his sadness after the death of Geoff and the AIDS discrimination lawsuit. (they would both be dead when the cases was won)
• Among several letters from a dear friend from grad school, Harold, one from 1988 saying that he had been in rehab, that his wife had left him and gone with their young son to live in NYC; then in a 1992 letter he wrote that he was going to remarry, and he said of his new wife: “there aren’t a lot of women who love the Lord and understand what makes Samuel Beckett funny”. I wish I had written that.
• 40 birthday cards my mother sent on the occasion of my 40th birthday, each one alluding to a high (or low) point of that calendar year
• An astrological chart made for me in 1994 by Lis’s astrologer friend, 4 pages of small print, full of symbols, planets, glyphs, aspects, houses. I don’t understand any of it.
• Numerous letters from Ruth, who for many years was my best correspondent; some were written on PLAYGIRL stationary, where she worked sometime in the 80’s; others on PACIFICA radio stationary, where she had a talk show. I haven’t heard from her in over 2 years now, and it is a terrible mystery.
• My grandmother’s Saigon carte d’identité for 1939-1940. By 1941 they were refugees, fleeing the Japanese invasion
• A 1990 letter from my mother describing Bonne-Maman’s memory loss symptoms, in painful detail
• The 1940 handbook for the Golf club de Saigon. I had no idea my grandfather played golf, if in fact he did.
Why am I doing this?
There is no other way of putting it: I am fearful lest I drop dead suddenly today, tomorrow, sometime soon and leave my children with the task of wrestling with boxes of papers and pictures. I want it all to be tidy.
Meanwhile, I could be losing my grip.