Today's post is courtesy of Literary Mama, who posted the following prompt on their Facebook page this morning:
Free write about something that is special to you and no one else.
Funny that as I was showering and dressing and getting my coffee, as I mulled over what I might write about, the prompt changed in my mind to: write about something you and only you care about.
So naturally, I thought of my laundry room floor. Nowhere else am I more apt to be found muttering: "No one cares. No one cares. Only me. I'm the ONLY person who cares about this floor!"
At certain points along the tidal wave, I'm not so much muttering as I am growling at the nearest child, or ranting at the nearest teenager, or silently, violently, grabbing clothes and towels and socks and sheets from the floor and jamming them into "clean" baskets. Clearly: no one cares about the laundry room floor except for me.
Coffee in hand, I sit to write. I look at the prompt again. It's not what I thought. It doesn't go with the post I've been composing in my head. The laundry room floor is most definitely not special to me. I may, in fact, be the only person on the planet who cares if the dirty and clean clothes are mixing in scandalous ways on that floor. I may, in fact, be the only person who tries to maintain some semblance of order and clarity and water conservation down there. But special? Nope.
So what is special to me and to no one else?
This is harder than I thought it would be. Everything that is special to me is special in relationship to someone else. The crest in the road on Highway 121 overlooking vineyards and hills of mustard in Springtime, that looks like a postcard and reminds me of dear friend Ann every time I drive over it? Also special to Ann. The hook and eye lock on the bathroom door in my childhood home, installed on my wedding day by my tuxedo-clad father? Also special to Rick. The small embroidered handbag my mother brought to me from a decades-ago trip to Russia? Also special to me mum.
But then, there on the laundry room floor of all places, I find it, a thing that is special to me, and to no one else. There, crushed under the weight of discarded soccer jerseys, tossed jackets, and maybe-clean-maybe-not towels, is a lovely, broken down wicker basket. The once-sturdy woven handle, that used to arch proudly over the top, is bent and bowed under the weight of the jackets and towels and everything else my family has thrown on top of it. The colorful wicker pattern is faded on one side from too much time left in the garden sun -- not by me but by a child using my special basket for some kind of imaginary wild play. It is all but forgotten, relegated now to the laundry room floor.
But once, I drove north, along the incomparable Pacific Coast Highway, alone and exploring and thrilled to be both. I was single, well-employed, slender, confident. Happy.
I stopped at Point Reyes, enjoying the sun and the freedom I felt at going wherever I wanted without task or timeline. At one of the tourist traps, filled with funky handcrafts and magnets and mugs, I spied a lovely, wide and frivolous basket. It made me inexplicably happy, and I bought it. I brought it home, and it has made me smile for years and years. It is special to me because it is the only thing I have ever bought simply and only because I loved it.
Like almost everything else that has been special to me -- necklaces, earrings, skirts, pictures, candles, paintings -- it has been destroyed by time and family life. I can't keep anything nice and am nearly resigned to never having anything remain intact, at least not until the kids grow up and get the heck out.
But just the other day, in my rush through the laundry room searching for socks and underwear, I felt a fleeting thought go by, almost obliterated by the push and pull of family life, lost forever but for this writing prompt: I will buy myself another basket someday. I will drive out some country road, alone, long-married, happy, content, and I will spy another lovely thing. I will buy it because I love it, and I will bring it home, and it will make me smile for years and years.
In the meantime, I will sometimes smile, sometimes scream at my laundry room floor.
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