Small Things #4

Me & Pop’s Shirt

A FEW DAYS AFTER HE DIED, I went to my Dad’s tiny studio apartment and went through his things. Someone had gotten there first, but they didn’t know that the old magnet letters on the fridge and the Boris Vallejo calendar still opened to the month of my last visit (July 1983) were the high value items. They also didn’t know where the piles of coins, silver and gold were stashed (yep). As I’ve said to friends and strangers, getting to really know someone for the first time through the detritus of their life is an odd experience, both sad and happy but somehow always fascinating and beautiful. Then again, I always wanted to be an archaeologist and that fire still burns. 
Pops was a couple inches shorter than me, never quite cracking six feet. And thanks to a six decade, four pack per day smoking habit, was hacksawed to just one leg for the last ten of his eighty-three years. So when I got to his wardrobe, none of the pants really fit. But I did find two gems among his shirts. I’m wearing one in this picture. These embroidered Western shirts are seventy years old now, and though I have to roll up the too short sleeves, I love knowing that he rocked them back in the day. It’s possible that he bought them at a thrift store a week before he died. I don’t know, but I know what I choose to believe.

What I choose to believe. This illusory belief in choice has helped me a lot in the last few years. I’ve found that what I prefer to believe makes a huge difference in my life. In our shared universe, there are lies, squishy truths, hard truths and then a big messy pile of unknowns. When I’m wading around in this pile and find myself up to my neck and on the verge of drowning it helps to dissolve the unknowns by giving them the old preferential treatment. Sure, I still know, deep down, that I don’t know a damned thing, but having a choice in what I believe empowers and provides me the footing and clarity to get back to shore.

[The “Small Things” series consists ofhalf-hour morning exercises. I sit, let a memory hit and type it out …. with the clock set for one half hour. Doesn’t leave much time for worrying about grammar or editing. Just get the stuff out the door.]

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