You might look at the picture below and think that it is representative of a garage in desperate need of cleaning. You might roll your eyes and wonder why it isn’t better organized or maybe you won’t think any of these things. In the end your thoughts about that garage aren’t as important as mine, because what I see is different.
What I see are pieces of many lives. There are more than a thousand forgotten treasures contained in that garage. Some of them are in boxes and some are on shelves. There are tools that are stained with the proverbial blood, sweat and tears of those who bent them to their will. There are toys that were once held by tiny fingers and placed in the baby R&D zone known as a the human mouth. If they could talk they might tell you about how for a while they were the favorite toy. They might tell you that something bright, shiny and sparkly made for hours of play.
There is a dresser on the left that has belonged to more than one boy who shares the same last name as I. I know only a few of their stories but mine, I know them all. When I was 3.5 I found a way to climb into the second drawer and then managed to close it. For a while I stayed safe in my new cocoon until I realized that I couldn’t get out. For a short while I called out for mom expecting that she would know immediately where to find me. After all moms are all knowing and it was incomprehensible that she wouldn’t find me…eventually.
That same dresser used to mock me. It was so tall and I was so very short. For years I couldn’t reach into the top two drawers. I marked time by measuring my growth against it. The nine year-old boy I once was was positively gleeful when he realized that he didn’t need a chair to reach into those drawers. The preteen was even more pleased when he could look down upon the top of it. It marked another place that he could secure his private things from the prying eyes of younger sisters who refused to listen to his commands not to go into his room.
Those pesky little girls would wait until he left and then sneak in so that they could see what it was that he was hiding. Somewhere that preteen smiles as he thinks about how he used to tape some things to the back of the dresser. Some items were left on top where it served as a decoy but the important stuff remained hidden. Tucked away from sight are the weights. They are stacked in front of some shelving near the dresser. If steel could speak they would tell stories of hopes and dreams. They would speak of countless hours of service in happiness, sadness and anger.
Clinkety clanking their way through the years they offer another connection from the past to the present. They watched a skinny boy turn himself into a hard body. In the silence I can still hear them speak to me, encouraging and or goading me to do another set. They are still used now but not with the same frequency as they once were. Life has gotten in the way of the daily regimen. Where hours were once available now there are brief moments. A body that is approaching middle age swings the bars back and forth, lifts them up and down. Dumbbells are pumped and sweat drips- the adrenalin high is the same as it ever was but it is harder to get the same results.
Somewhere in the back of the garage are old suits that ask why they no longer fit. Those weights made sure that the jacket looked good. Wide shoulders, tapered waist, a perfect V. And now the jackets point accusing fingers. From the chest up all looks the same, but the middle has filled out and the jackets ask why. The pants say don’t bother to try, you will only look like a stuffed sausage.
Old pictures attest to the truth of what once was and what no longer is. The high school senior smiles at the camera. It is almost summer and he is wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. The boy is tan and his muscles ripple when he moves. He has abs that are well defined, no need to flex to show them off because they stand out on their own. His hair is short but that is because he is a swimmer. If he were to let it grow it would cover all of the top of his head, not just part of it.
There are so many other stories that can be told. So many other forgotten treasures that beg to walk under sunny blue skies again. Bikes, trikes and toys cry out for attention. Garden tools ask to be used and old books throw flirtatious glances in my direction.
Some of the past has to go away now. Some of it will be given away. Some of it will be divided up. Some will stick around and sail off into the future where they will continue to bear witness to future adventures of life. All of it a reminder that you life never stops moving…