Dearest Rachel –
Jan and I are continuing to make progress on cleaning the house, although the going is considerably slower than before. It’s one thing to bundle up your clothes for donation, knowing no one in this household will ever wear them again. It’s another to determine which of my clothes need to go, and which ones can stay.
Now, I’ve at least done this before, as far as getting rid of stuff that didn’t fit me and all that. But it is a bit of a struggle to get rid of stuff that I remember being comfortable to wear, despite the fact that the pattern was out of date, or the ribbing made it look like I was ten pounds stuffed into a five-pound sack. Thank heaven Jan is… insistent… about these sorts of things.
Of course, I’m still left with a fairly large supply of clothes, more than really fits comfortably in my side of the closet. I’ve always made do before, but… Jan’s moving my long-sleeved stuff into your portion of the closet.
I had really hoped to leave that side empty, I’ll be honest.
It’s just another acknowledgement that you’re gone, but it’s also an admission that no one is going to be taking your place for a long time to come, much as I would wish otherwise.
And that second fact is almost as painful to admit to myself as the first.
The closet is more than clothing, though, and if the clothes were hard to deal with, well, we were just getting started. The upper shelf holds a number of boxes that haven’t been looked at for probably the last two decades… and we were about to bring them down.
Actually, it came out that a lot of these boxes had to do with the work I’d done in ceramic tiles early on in our marriage. Given that they were so heavy, Jan eventually decided not to bother. However, there were a couple of boxes that still came down, the lighter ones…
The ones full of photographs.
Now, the first few envelopes were reasonably familiar. Pictures of Daniel as a little baby, and us more or less as newlyweds.
And then, there were these…
These were taken, I’m going to assume, back when you were taking that J-term trip with the university math class to Greece and (as originally scheduled) to Italy. Of course, Italy never happened, because that was the month that the U.S. invaded Kuwait and Iraq, and it was dangerous to be an American abroad. So the entire class came home early. Way early. Which (understandably) upset you at the time – and which explains why, when the family took the Mediterranean cruises we did in 2005 and 2009, you were so thrilled about them, since you finally got to see the places you missed on this trip.
At any rate, when this class trip got cut short, you all flew home straightaway, where I met you at the airport, at which point you spent, I want to say, a week with us, leading to more stories I’ll need to get into another time.
The problem is, well… I know where and when this was taken, and what you were doing, generally, I don’t, however, know much of the specifics.
Oh, there were a few stories you told about the whole trip. The one I remember the best were when you were on the island of Samos, and you and several others of your classmates rented motor scooters, and puttered around the island for several hours. It’s entirely possible that some of these pictures were taken on that jaunt, but I can’t tell whether or not that’s the case – I don’t see anything showing any of you on such a scooter in the envelope of photos you left behind.
You also mentioned a hotel that from the front to seemed very unassuming, but once you were checked in, the elevator – which made no sense from the outside, as it looked like a single-story building – went down rather than up, revealing that all of the rooms were facing one direction, looking out over the cliff side. You don’t seem to have any pictures of the hotel, though.
Now, when I took my own J-term business class trip to Asia a few years before, we were instructed to keep a journal, which was eventually to be turned in for a grade. I’d imagine you might have been required to keep one yourself, but I don’t yet recall having seen it.
That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, though. I’ve had to go through an awful lot of papers and whatnot throughout this house already, but there’s still a fair amount left to go through yet, so it’s entirely possible it may turn up yet. At the same time, I may have already come across it, and not recognized for what it was. I think I do remember something in a spiral notebook mentioning how I picked you up at the airport, but I forget where I saw it, and would be hard pressed to try and locate it at a moment’s notice. So much of what you’ve documented in one place doesn’t obviously link with anything else; I don’t always expect that something you’ve written down here corresponds to a packet of photos there. Especially when I haven’t gotten there to find said photos, after all.
So until I track that down again, assuming it exists, and assuming you still have kept it (that, at least, seems likely), these photographs are, to me, nothing more than some pretty pictures of Greece. Pictures that you could’ve told me about at one point or another, but now won’t have the chance to. Pictures that I’ll simply never know the full story to.