My Smalls.

My Smalls.

 noun \di-‘tri-tus\
: the pieces that are left when something breaks, falls apart, is destroyed, etc.

Yeesh. What a bummer of a definition. I have long enjoyed the word detritus. It’s a quality word. Timeless and official. A word that costs upwards of 49 cents. But here I was just looking to write a little blog post about stuff…clutter…mementos.

But…it’s all right….fine, all right….detritus.
It’s a tad too dramatic, but then again…so am I.

I have entered a Season of Detritus.

Oh…wait…here’s another definition:

waste or debris of any kind.
flotsam and jetsam, rubble; scraps, dregs, leavings,
organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms.


Much better. The Dregs and Leavings Part. Yes.

The Flotsam and Jetsam. Of course.

Even better – the organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms.

That’s it. That’s what I’m talking about.

I have entered a Season of Detritus.

This is the contemplation of my Winter.

Chicago Winter: (a cursed noun) a majestic yet relentless parade of dangerous frigidity and snow that sentences one to a extended bout of house arrest and thereby forces one to encounter, on a daily basis, one’s stuff which plagues and bloats and swells the closets and nooks in one’s domicile.

I spent a lot of time looking at my crap this Winter.

Not so much looking at it, but shuffling it around and mostly cursing it. I tried to wrassle some of it into a kind of Target Cubed Storage Situation back in January but to little or no avail.

Like an unruly dough starter, stuff just doubles in size until you must punch it down again and again.

The ongoing reminder from this stuff is that my age is kind of approaching a midpoint, I suppose. Fine. Though not, necessarily, the middle, it is a transitional age. Not in number of years, but in sheer number of events that have happened up to this point. These events demand reflection. They require a pause for breath. This age is a kind of fork.

I’m about to turn 37.

It’s not a big deal. I am neither old nor young. I’m not freaking out, but my stuff sure is. My stuff is demanding of me a long overdue edit. A whittling. A cataloguing. A decision.

“Which of us “things” are being kept?”

“If so, then for whom?”

Pipe down, Stuff.

I have done a lot a living in those 37 years that has left little dregs along the way. Even better, I have done a whole lot of loving up to this middling ground. Much Loving. Familial, Senitmental, Infatuous, Romantic, Forever and best, a Parental kind of Loving. These Loves have gifted me with permanent, indelible marks internally and have manifested externally in trinkets, scraps and savories that render both my heart and my drawers and my closets full to bursting. And my parent’s drawers and closets, too.

Yes, trips home now come with a little something extra. You see, our things, mine and my husband’s, are starting to get shuttled and scuttled around. Parceled, packed and given back. I am now becoming a memory keeper as pieces of my life and my aging loved one’s lives are being cataloged, assigned and purged from their original, dusty, squirreled away homes and thrust into mine. These are the “stuff memories” that have been kept for me. With me in mind. All the versions of me that have led to this present day one.

These items are never given back in a furious, frustrated, burdensome way. They are thrust rather sweetly, in fact. Given back, no, lovingly presented to me with a low voice and an almost whispered plea to please lay your eyes just once more on this fragment from of your past. As if it was going to imminently disappear or float away. Memories are a such a beautiful conspiracy, a quiet corroboration of facts. They are founded on one party asking the other to agree that this thing (this picture, this document, this bauble, this moth-eaten ladies hand fan) had meaning. “I remember this, do you remember this? You do? Wonderful now it is part of our story. We share it and this memory was real.” There is a such sweet relief in that affirmation.

Some items are terrible port keys who have no business seeing the light of day again.

“My 6th and 7th grade journals?” Who wouldn’t want to crack open and peruse that Horror of the Adolescent Human Psyche just once more? Thanks, but no.

Some are exquisitely gentle.

My Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding invitation from 1942.

The outfit that I came home from the hospital in. It was yellow.All the baby clothes were yellow back then.

The Stuff I have kept?

In my Closet of Rubble and Bloated Storage Nooks of Dreck?

The perfect, hotsy-totsy audition dress I got for peanuts at Ragstock. Yeah, I might be a little older now for the roles I auditioned for in that dress. And, yes, trying to wrestle my body into it after carrying and birthing two huge baby boys with bowling ball heads (talk about detritus!) might present yet another Horror of the Human Psyche, but dang, I’ll never forget how that dress made me feel.

That hilarious early-00s top I wore the night he first kissed me. It had a huge picture of a geisha on it- of course it did – 2002! I suppose this was my first attempt an ironic T-shirt.

He said he knew he would marry me the day I wore that yellow sweater to rehearsal.

The simple plaid shirt I wore when I said Goodbye to my Grandpa Lee.

A small collection of Christmas tree ornaments that, previously unbeknownst to me, now hold almost every ounce of my childhood whimsy. After my children, I would rescue them from a fire.

I am a now memory keeper. I suppose women are perhaps more inclined to this role, but are by no means the only ones fit for it. Memory keeping requires both hunting and gathering. And copious amounts of editing.

Oh yeah.

Yes, of course.

I almost forgot.

You see, I have two little beloveds now, and they are male and I am keeping their memories. For them. Their photograph and stuff memories in books and bins. In my heart, I keep all the memories though my sleep addled brain is starting to knick a few here and there. Not the big ones. Never the big ones.

My mother, my original memory keeper, is rabidly obsessed with She did swab mouth DNA tests and everything. She is in the process of looking backwards. Unearthing. Discovering origins and drawing the map of the roots of the vast family tree. We used to just be Anglo Mutts. That’s not enough anymore. Now it’s a whole different story.

She is looking back and digging. I am looking forward and picking up trinkets and gathering and stowing away like a manic squirrel. I feel like my baby boys are these runaway covered wagons. (Stay with me) These wagons are being driven by crazy wild horses and little bits of stuff gets chucked out here and there along the long and dusty road. I am feverishly chasing these wild wagons, not knowing where they’re going but desperate to keep the legend of how they got there. It’s all going so fast! The wagons are going too fast! I am keeping macaroni art. I am tucking away socks and shoes. Even little hats that never had a prayer of fitting on their big bowling balls heads. I am writing down the words “muff -hymn” and “cram-ma”, bracing myself for the great wreckage of my heart someday when Eli simply asks me for a “muffin” and to help him find the “camera”.

O, you silly wagons.

Eli’s Pacifiers. They haven’t been chomped on and relished in over two years. There are twenty of them. Twenty. They sit in a drawer in the nursery, holes bitten into them, yellowed silicone all around the edges. The trash can will receive these relics someday. These “Bops” (his word) will not mean much to my Grown and Future Eli, but they meant so much to him only two years ago, they were his security, his friends…..BACK OFF TRASH CAN!!!!…..maybe next year….

I am a primary memory keeper now. I have two Little Beloveds. They are 8 months and 44 months old, respectively. They sleep irrespectively. To Me. They disrespect me every night in their lack of sleep. They are so beloved. I am so tired.

I also have a Big Beloved. He is 484 months old. I’ll keep some stuff for him, too.

Between my Season of Detritus and My Winter of Sleeping in Shards and my Closet of Rubble, I have a lot of digging out and putting back together to do. I do love my age and I am so happy to be It. I need to piece together my past while gathering for my future.

I am 442 months old.

I feel like I am a used jigsaw puzzle that one might buy at a yard sale, (voluntarily acquired detritus!). You’re not sure if all the pieces are there in the box and frankly, it’s hot and you don’t really feel like counting them right now anyway. It is hot out at this yard sale and I am so tired. I just trust that all the pieces are there, the important ones anyway. If a piece is missing, if I meant to find it, it will turn up. If not, I still enjoy the picture that will eventually come into view.



Author’s Note: Friends, I have so much Detritus floating around what’s left of my brain at this time that I originally misplaced the extra “t” in Detritus. I always thought it Det-trius. Nope.


  1. Erin Myer says:


  2. Lindsey Miller says:

    I sometimes wish I had a few more “things”, just a little more stuff around to help me remember. My mom is a big advocate for getting rid of the “things”; so I tuck my memories into little corners of my brain and they sit there with nothing solid to help me remember why they’re there in the first place. Just little memories of moments I kind of remember, but can’t quite place.

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