Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Boxes - Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver – Boxes

Very happy to see this story by Carver included in this volume. The story came along at the right time.

A time for me to recognize my mother a bit more.

As a parent now, I can appreciate the feelings she must have had when I left home. Sure, the feelings I have about the boy are much different than the feelings she had for an 18 year old going off to college.

When I left, It was natural for me to go. I haven’t transitioned, or needed to develop the capacity to have those feelings yet. And furthermore, I am a father and she is a mother. The feelings a mother has for a child are so different than the feelings that a father has for their son or daughter. I’m not saying that one parent loves the child more than the other…they just have different connections. I wrote about that before and I needn’t get into it again.

I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her to see me leave for school. She did have the comfort of knowing that I’d be in a pretty controlled environment.

After college, and not quite knowing about the life I was leading probably caused her to worry a bit more. Sure I was with my father at that point, but I was an adult with the capacity to do adult things…which I naturally did.

And then when I left the country for 2.5 years…well…she just had to accept that I was going to survive off everything that I had learned up to that point. She really had to let go.

Not of her worries of course…she can always worry…but she had to let go of something. What it was, I’m not sure. She did, and she survived my time away. When the decision to return to the States was made, and the decision to return to our city, and to live with her for several months was made, well, she couldn’t have been happier.

We still live in the city I was raised in, and the city where she lives. We are just about one mile apart. I can drive to her house in less than 5 minutes (depending on the sequence of traffic lights) and run there in about 8.

We take the boy over there quite often and she makes every effort she can to be involved in his life. She has bought him countless outfits, toys and more importantly…diapers. Her help is beyond measurement. A few weeks ago when M and I were crippled by a stomach virus, she stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. She was over at our place in minutes ready to take care of the boy while we struggled to survive.

Mom is getting old. She is in a decent house taking care of her husband and attempting to keep the house in order. Bills…maintenance… squirrels in the garage…etc.

The question of what will happen to my mother and the house once my step father passes away has come up with a bit more frequency in the last few years. Will she sell the house? Remain in it alone?

The thought of our little family moving in with her at that point has been floated on more than one occasion by M and I. Even other members of the family have mentioned it as an idea once the time comes.

A decision such as that is a pretty heavy one. One that would involve quite a few gives and takes. Careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages. Thoughts without letting certain emotions enter into the decision making process, and careful negotiations and explanations once the final decision is made. Of course, that’s how I would prefer it to happen. In reality…


Whatever decision is made, someplace within the process, there will be many boxes involved. The physical boxes marked “kitchen”, “bedroom” and “bathroom”. And of course, the boxes of emotion, some with tell-tale markings and some with markings that take a bit of deciphering. The boxes that we have been carrying around our whole lives from one place to another, from one relationship to another.

The attic in my mother’s house has a shit-load of boxes. About 25% of those boxes are mine. 5% of those boxes are pre-marriage…and contain articles from another life. When I was another person. Some date as far back as college. The other boxes were moved there only a couple of years ago. They were placed there in a weekend filled with a flurry of movement as I tried to get the boy’s room ready. Most contain books, papers, the general shit that one accumulates as a married couple and soon loses all importance once a child enters the house. No doubt, I crack open those boxes in a few years. What I’ll do with the contents is unknown. No doubt, I’ll need to crack open the boxes of emotion I hold and what I’ll do with those contents are probably going to cause me to sit a bit…and really think.

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