Friday, March 03, 2006

Please, God, Don't Let It Be Genetic...

This week I pulled a lynchpin of my life, in the form of my old computer desk. I bought the desk 7 years ago, in a different house, for a computer I haven't used since I bought my laptop in 2003. It's been sitting fallow in my "office" since then, piled with random paper and computer equipment I couldn't use if I wanted to because of all the clutter. When the DAV called last week to ask if I had anything for them, I said "Yes!" and resolved to donate the desk.

You have to understand how hard it is for me to get rid of anything. My friends laugh and tease me about it, but it causes me actual physical pain to think of something useful (like, say, a desk, or an old yet functional computer) ending up in a landfill. My stomach gets all twisted, and I start sweating, and my lip trembles, and in the end it's just much easier to keep the damn stuff. Until, of course, the house gets full. So I resolved that the desk would go, hopefully to a good home, and I got Rat Girl to help me move it outside; I still stressed and sweated a bit, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Once the desk was gone, I could get into the room and move around more easily, and before long I'd cleared out bags of trash (which isn't useful, so I have no problem pitching it) and arranged the entire room and its closet to make it attractive and livable. In the process of pulling everything out of the closet, I found a small lockbox I'd rescued from my Great-Aunt's house after she died--one of those small metal boxes with an insurance company logo on it, into which you're supposed to put valuable documents in case the house burns down. Naturally, the key had never surfaced during the post-mortem excavation of her home, and I'd taken the box thinking I'd pick the lock someday and see what was in it. I could hear some paper rattling around; but I'd tossed the box in the closet and forgotten about it for several years. Then, this week, here it was--and this week was not a good one for a number of reasons. So I thought, time to open it. Time to see if the box contained Aunt Aileen's lost shares of AT&T or a secret will or war bonds from 1941. That would have been a fairy tale ending to a crummy week. So I got a couple of small pointy metal objects and proceeded to pry the box open at the edge, far enough so that the paper could slide out..... and THIS is what I found.

Of all the possible things she could put into the lockbox, the one thing that's going to survive the fire is a 1954 letter from the Cincinnnati Gas Company informing my aunt that she will be able to install gas heat in her home. I suppose if the gas had blown the house up, this would have been valuable evidence for the prosecution. It's really kind of hilarious, this is just like my Aunt Aileen to have kept something like that for 50 years. Hilarious, and yet eerily familiar to me.... I have limits to my packrattiness, though. I think. I hope.