Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PACKAGE

Today's Word of the Day was: package
When we stepped on the right side of the line in the big Deal or No Deal in Heaven; when we raised our hands and said we would follow the one born first; that's when we started the whole package thing. Since then pretty much everything has come in a package. First one was the fleshy one. It came all pink and red and squirmy and squealing and it was tied to the package that came before it, which was tied to the one before, and so on all the way back to mother Eve. That package we keep till we're done. It stretches and swells and shrinks and wrinkles. But it holds the goods whether we like it or not.
Most everything else around us is packaged as well, some of it painted and glittered and infused with aromas. Some of it covered in ugly. Some of it untouched and wrapped by God himself. Tonight I slipped the edge of a peeler under the skin of some organic carrots for my sister. Shaved the outer layer off and julienned little pieces with the blade of a well sharpened knife. Cooked them in their bright orange glory to tender and laid them on some fresh parsley, all deep deep green and lacy. Laid on a white dinner plate, it was so beautifully packaged it whispered "Nurture, nurture" as I carried it over to my sister. This same sister used to send we three little girls packages from her grown up world all the way across the country, in the salty foggy air of California. Little packages of treats and trinkets from the one who had clothed and cradled us while our mother worked in the potato fields or fried fries and mixed milkshakes at Mert's Drive-In. We left her standing on the tarmac at the airport when we moved to Pittsburgh and she stayed in Idaho to start college. I was 5. One day when I was maybe 10 and she had graduated and taken a job in the San Francisco Bay area, a box arrived with the shape of a diamond in the left hand corner. Inside were shiny little metal cans of nuts; almonds from California. Roasted and salted and flavored and yummy. It was my first taste of many first tastes she gave us. Packaged fresh and new to the tastebuds of a cluster of kids in southwestern PA. Sherry's packages at Christmas were wrapped in tidy little boxes with crisply tied bows. Even now, when I hold a package from her, there is a little electrical current that rises from the floor up through my feet, past my tummy and through my heart, straight into my head and up to heaven.
Grandma Connors was famous for her packages. Giant brown boxes left on the front porch by the mail lady, at least 6 times a year, one for each of our birthdays and one for Christmas. Inside each mother-package were other packages, sometimes more packages tied into those like the wooden dolls from Russia, layered into themselves. And, though the birthday child usually got the most, every other child received gifts as well. For a while there everyone got their own rolls of scotch tape and their own sets of magic markers, with art pads and scissors and spools of plastic boondoggle that would make 5,000 keychains if anyone was patient enough to use it all. Sarah received every single Babysitters Club book in those various Gramma Connors packages. John's first baseball cards. Kate's Trouble game and Annie's Fisher Price tape recorder. Grandma Connors wrapped her love and longing on her dining table, folding the edges to make clean lines, and embellished them with yards of colored ribbon. Sent little pieces of herself 2,000 miles to the west to her little ones. They received her gifts with giggles and shouts and clapping. Same way I imagine we received the news of the first package we would get, way back there in the heaven realm.
Look around. Just about everything is packaged. The down sewn into layers of fabric that warm my mother in her easy chair. The angel-white furry softness of Pi as she sleeps in her new doggy pen on the floor beside us. The shapely wooden body and long slender neck of my guitar leaning against the fireplace. Tomatoes on the sink. Wedding invitation on the counter with the name of someone I love scrolled across the envelope and other people I love embossed on the inner card. Time captured in the large black disc on the wall. All packaged. All aesthetic and so...so...oh, I don't know...so alive. Thanks, God.

2 comments:

  1. i love the packages of words you share with us! thanks!

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  2. Mom you are the best writer I know! I don't think there is a single writing you've done that hasn't touched me deeply, or made tears well up or made me laugh out loud. You're writing makes me feel. I love the memories of grandma connors packages and I love hearing about your life. You are the best! Please promise me that you will make us a package of all of your writings. You could publish it!

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