They say that you can’t take it with you, but I’m not so sure that’s true. Right here on the arm of my chair I have a ticket stub from a production of Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You. This evidence suggests that I have been, in fact, taking this scrap of paper with me for decades. The play was performed at Milford High School, Milford, Michigan in my senior year, 1967. I was a member of the drama club, but I only did mundane things like sell tickets. What dramatic impulses I do have blossomed years later when I became a teacher. I see by two old tape marks, that this ticket must have been part of the scrapbook that stayed at my home for years. However, the scrapbook has traveled with me at least since my parents moved away from Milford over twenty years ago. About seven years ago I discovered that the scrapbook itself had mildewed. I tossed it out, but carted with me the actual photos, ticket stubs, and other souveniralia when we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. As part of my ongoing deaccession project, I saved many of the photographs, but jettisoned most of the odd bits and pieces. The items I abandoned include:
- 7 junior high and high school attendance, achievement, and academic certificates
- Camp Cavell (YWCA of Detroit) Birthday salutation
- Henry Ford Museum Brochure
- 2 “Installation of Officers” pamphlets from the Milford Bethel No. 68 International Order of Job’s Daughters plus my purple and white Job’s Daughters headband (don’t ask—really)
- 3 high school playbills: A Thurber Carnival, Diary of Anne Frank, and Twelfth Night or What You Will (1963, Pontiac Northern Senior High School, “in Commemoration of the Bard’s 400th Anniversary”)
- various report cards and other school mementos
- enigmatic broadside, “Satan’s Herald” from July 3, 1967 including the Blue’s Heaven Library books for loan that month, Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson and The Variety of Psychedelic Experience by R.E.L. Masters and Joan Houston
- blue Romney (George) bumper sticker
- Receipt for $84.05 from Robinson Auto Service Kanab, Utah, 4-1-73. The so-called mechanic put in a new generator and/or regulator, apparently backwards (which caused the car to stop working in the Sierra Nevada mountains 20 miles from Reno—another story)
- and much more
Preserving these relics (and, pathetically, there were many) of my ordinary life must have been my attempt to take it with me. My childhood was generally happy. I did a few memorable things in my happy, ordinary life. I have wanted to keep this happiness with me in my cozy nest of memorabilia, books, and papers. I think my husband and I are getting each other Kindles for Christmas. My nest is almost gone now, but I think I am okay with that.
Maybe what I can’t face is the meaning of the word “it” in you can’t take it with you. I did take the corporeal ticket stub along with me. I did take the memories of my home in Milford, my family, my friends, and my school with me, too. Last week I had yet another (in a long series) birthday and wrinkles have recently broken out in a new quadrant of my face. Today, I realize my nest of words and oddments were supposed to fend off the contemplation—let alone the fact of—death. Really, I’m not gloomy; I’m just striving to face facts within the constraints of my sort of touchy-feely, but agnostic worldview. I don’t have clouds with angels, I don’t have a great wheel that turns, but I do have poetry. This morning, finally finishing up this blog that has been sitting on my table and my mind for two weeks, I have words in my head. I hear Yeats and Easter, 1916, the last lines of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and a Meskwaki poem, from The Little Square Review (Number 5-6, Spring-Summer 1968) that my friend Jan gave me for my birthday over forty years ago. Oh, and a touch of Tennyson’s Ulysses, and I bet my contemporaries know which lines I am hearing.
Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1833
I’m done. I will either throw the ticket stub in the trash or pocket veto it in my top dresser drawer. Thanks for listening.
Next: Trying to write about death bogged me down some, so my next blog—in time for the holidays—will be about New Orleans pralines and other old recipes. See you then.