Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Closet Revisited

I must have been about 19 when my parents informed me I would no longer have a room of my own at their house. This made perfect sense, though to this day I do sullenly maintain it was a bit on an injustice. True, I had moved out and my younger sister needed the room, but so had my younger brother. In the 6 years since this shift occured, he has come home to visit the family only a handful of times while I return every few months at least, sleeping for the most part, in his room which he keeps as a sort of shrine to himself

I placed certain demands on my sister when I handed over the kingdom keys, the most important being that that I retained control of the big creepy secret storage area accessible through a swinging door in the back of the closet. She acquiesced. From time to time I poke around in there, though my sister keeps her room such a horrific mess that I haven't dared, or felt compelled to rummage through there in years.

Until now.

A week or two ago when Len and I were at Guitar Center, I found myself interested in playing only two kinds of things off the wall: black acoustic guitars and Mandolins. It occured to me that somewhere in that secret storage area I owned a Balalaika, a Russian variation of the mandolin, which my uncle had brought me as a Bat-Mitzvah girft from St. Petersburg many years ago. I could only imagine what horrible state of poor tuning the strings would be in but as I'm wont to do, I got obsessed with recovering it and made an appointment with my sister to access the storage unit this afternoon.

Dutifully, she cleared me a path and I just spent a few moments up there. I could have spent all night there really, if I wasn't in a minor hurry to get to Jorge's and Drink George Dickell and smoke cigarettes with him and Becca. Suffice it to say the experience was intense.

Heaps and heaps of all this junk that belongs to no one but me. Not just me, but a former version of my self. Covered in dust and insulation flakes here are some things I found:

-my first pair of combat boots
-a tupperware FULL of nailpolish (when did I wear nailpolish??)
-shoeboxes overflowing with notes I passed back and forth in middle school, filled with the usual "Im SOOO Bored" "so and so got felt up by so and so" and a whole secret language for describing all sorts of contraband like pot and secret crushes.

(Let it be known, as an aside that passing notes to the extent I did back then was VERY hard work. Sometimes i'd be conducting two or three communiques across the aisles, often gossiping ABOUT the other correspondents. Beyond the the obvious danger of getting caught by the teacher, loomed the threat of mistakenly mixing up my channels of communication. A deadly error for a 13 year old girl which, if you weren't careful would no doubt result in tearful lunch-hour girls-room dramatics.)

-notebooks upon notebooks of very embarrasing teenage poetry (I thought about posting some on here for laughs but decided that I need just a few more years before it ripens into "funny")
-notebooks of less embarrasing writing from my later teenage years including a suprisingly moving account of walking through the streets of Jerusalem alone at night
-letters from and aborted letters to my beloved first boyfriend when we were 17 and I was living in israel. He wrote me faithfully three times a week (remember real paper letters?), sometimes iserting flyers for shows his band was playing at local punk houses.
-a slew of CD's and *casette tapes* including pearl jam and the beastie boys. (why those were EVER expunged from my collection and banished to the secret storage area I can't imagine)
-my blackwatch plaid, polyester uniform skirt from my days at jewish private school. I noted with satisfaction that some sort of spider had attached an egg-sack to one of the pleats. At least someone feels at home in it.
-A folder of xerox materials from the "underground" newspaper Sara and I started in 9th grade at said Jewish School, entitled appropriately, "The Heresy."
-An old, maroon, leather thrift store wallet which contained not one but TWO neatly folded ten dollar bills. They are they old design of ten dollar bills too which makes the find that much sweeter.

-and, of course, the balalaika. It's a little dusty but a pleasing, glossy black. Around the bridge is a painted a scene of sorts: an acrylic rendering of the kremlin or some other very regal building precedded by a stylized, tempestuous mote. Standing over the property at larger than life size is a bearded man in Billowing Medieval gard. He looks like Alexander Nevsky about to drive off the Teutonic invaders. As predicted, it sounds awful.

I promise a more detailed report of the contents of the secret storage room when I come back to my parents in late april. Until then, If you live in the Chicago area and know how to tune a balalaika, please do get in touch.

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