AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: DATE: 6/09/2004 11:23:00 AM ----- BODY:

They Say Goldfish Have No Memory

Today was a momentous day in my young life. Today a girl from the temp agency came in and...and...I can barely say it...I got to tell her what to do. "Move these files," I said, pointing to the black file cabinet currently taking up most of the space in the cubicle they're moving me to, "From this cabinet..." I led her to the back room. "To these." "Okay," she said. I looked at her. "What was your name again?" I said. I am a bitch, yes. But I could jump up and down and scream with happiness. For the first time in my life, I am not the girl who comes in from the temp agency to move files all day. I am the girl who gets to tell that girl to move those files for her, and make it snappy. Look out, I am drunk with power. Things are happening. I am movin' on up. Meanwhile, we discovered where that purse came from. Despite the fact that we scoured the house from top to bottom when we were moving my grandfather out, to the point of sweeping the attic and washing windows, the purse was hanging off the door to the bedroom, behind where it was opened against the wall. Something you have to understand: my grandmother was the connoisseur of purses. And shoes. And earrings. Big Nancy-Reagan style round post earrings. Even a decade after her death, much of that stuff still remained in closets and nooks and crannies you don't think about until it's time to give a house a radical people-ectomy. So out of the mountains of crap we shoveled out of that house, out of the purses and shoes and Nancy Reagan jewelry and fishing rods and baseball caps and broken electric fans and folding chairs we pried out of every corner, the one thing that was left behind, hanging on a doorknob, just happening to call attention to itself, was the one of my grandmother's purses that we managed not to donate to Goodwill. Which was also the one that has had two separate wads of $20 bills in it since the early 90's. There are a couple of ways to look at it, of course. In general I'm thinking of it as a re-settling of the dust kicked up by separating my family from the house on Parker Road after 50 years. It's bound to stir some echoes. Although more things are coming to me, dreams I had around the time of her death. In one that came to me even before she got sick, she and I were dancing together onstage in strange green-and-purple costumes. We were having a great time, though, bringing down the house, and as people clapped and cheered for us, she looked at me and said out of nowhere, "No matter what, I'll always be with you." Before I could ask her what she meant, I woke up. I am seriously not making this up. The only reason I even remembered it is because I came across my account of it in one of my old journals recently, which was written down at the time, in the spring of 1993, which was before we found out she was sick. When she was dying I had a dream that she showed up at a rehearsal for Brigadoon, which I was singing in the chorus for at the time. Shocked to see her looking healthy, walking around, and attending rehearsal when the last time I'd seen her she'd looked like a Holocaust victim, I ran over and hugged her. She proceeded to sing me a lullaby that I can't hold on to--dreams are like that--that broke my heart. I woke up that time sobbing. Since she died I've had dreams where I've talked to her. She always looks the same, and wants to know about my life. She never dishes out advice. She only listens. That's the creepy thing about those recent dreams--if it were wishful thinking, she'd tell me what to do. Just listening and witholding judgement is more like her. So what to make of it? Does my grandmother haunt me like a guardian angel? The only answer to things like that, I think, is the usual: a definite maybe. Talking with Leeann last night, I learned Amanda finally went into labor. Holy crap, someone my age is giving birth. I know it happens all the time, but this is the first time I've felt so confronted by it. Birth, death, ghosts, technical files in manila folders, the divine and the mundane jumbling together just like always, but like the little plastic castle, a surprise every time.