June 26, 2014
It’s not like on the television commercials. Not for me. I am packing for life in a dorm room, and I will drive to Seattle and unpack, myself. Not a family event with Mom gathering up what’s needed and Dad loading the station wagon. But I don’t know what I’ll need. Does a dormitory even have an iron? I don’t have time to research; I must get on the road within half an hour to get to Seattle before dark, so I don’t get caught driving in the dusk or dark in a strange area.
I go to my mother and wait for her to turn my way to ask my question. When she does, she tells me to go ahead without her.
Is there time for me to Google for directions? Probably not. I ask Alisa for her number; maybe I can get help from her if I’m lost along the way. She motions for me to give her paper and pencil. She writes and hands back the paper and all it says is “?”
“Oh, you don’t have a phone number? No cell?”
I go back to sorting and packing. I abandon the methodical sifting through box after box and instead search for specifics, rolling up sweaters and pants and placing them in the suitcase. Gray cords and brown cords. No, the brown ones are old and small, where are the black cords? I find them buried and throw them in. The sweaters are old but reliable: pink turtleneck, red turtleneck. Where are the black ones? Do I need these vests? I better take a dress, but they are so old. I count out socks for a week; no, maybe I need for more than a week? How long will I be there? I don’t know which colors. Four pairs of whites go in; I better find the black ones.
Boxes of mismatched socks and T-shirts. I try to pile them by type to hasten matching up pairs, but the patterns are so large yet intricate; I can’t tell if I have a match unless I unfold the shirts and lay them side by side. No time for that; I’ll just find the obvious matches and take those. Beautiful patterns, scenes – I like the ones of Firenze especially. No time.
I think I’m done, but the suitcase still has room. What else? Oh, now I see where the missing blouses are, still hanging on the extra rod in the back. Louise points to her own silk print blouses in front. “These are my favorites,” she says.
“And my favorites are in back of them. See, the petite versions – shorter blouses on the lower rack.” I take beautiful patterns in jewel tones. But do these require vests? So complicated. Where are the black vests that go with the blouse in my hand? How will I have time to sort which vests with which tops with which pants with which socks?
My mother appears, looking sheepish, a bit hesitant. Then she asks about the pen.
“Yes,” I say. “But it doesn’t work.” I tell her how recently I tried to write with the green fountain pen Daddy gave me but it was too old and broken.
“He gave it to me when I was ten, you know.”
“No, I didn’t realize the pen was that old. But doesn’t it work anyway? Can we use it?”
“No, the nub is broken and the pen is twisted. And when I tried to fill it up, that bottle was so old the ink had turned to water. But even so, the pen wouldn’t draw up any liquid.”
Too bad. Such a fine pen it was. I miss it.
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