Objects of Affection

“Do you want the tablecloths?” my mom asks. “What about the pink one, with the ecru trim, from Belgium?”

She calls hourly.

“What about cookbooks? I have many wonderful cookbooks.”

There is a subtle unease in her voice. I wouldn’t say anxiousness, or panic. But unease.

“And the coat. What am I going to do with the coat? I won’t need it, it’s so heavy, and it takes up so much room.”

“Hmmm, the coat.”

“I wore it to Central Park, three years ago, I think, to see the billowing orange sculptures.”

Mom is moving. Not far, just a few floors down, for half the year. The other half, she’ll be in the sunny south. But the things, the things in the armoire, the things in the kitchen cabinets, in the hall closet, the things have got her dizzy.

“I’m going to send you the trays,” she says, making my phone ring on my desk while I am teaching a class. “I have so many trays. Who am I serving?”

Who am I serving, I think. 

Trays are thin, I tell her on my way home, in the car. You can stand them on their sides. “What about those amethyst plates?”

“Oh, God, I forgot about them. Do you want them? I can’t use them. They can be chargers, or plates. Just put them in the  back house. For now.”

I convince her to give them to my brother. They are moderne. My brother and sister-in-law are moderne. They will love them. Mom can see them when she visits.

My mom has lived in her apartment for something like fifteen years. Before that, she sold the house. That was big, selling the house, with all that it contained. Feelings, mostly. This is not a thing, that way. This is logistical. I don’t want it to be a thing for my mom, since she already had one, a big one. So, I am encouraging her to keep as many objects as she can, to divvy them up between her two new abodes.

I will take a tray, if I have to, but that is it.

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