The 60-pound club chair that Alberto stored to make room for my vintage L.A. furniture. A tattered French boudoir chair of his that I never asked about. Tennis rackets I never saw him use. Boxes of polos and swim trunks that never saw Summer 2009. All of these things—along with my own share of unused artifacts—no longer live in the basement storage units of my building.
This week they went home with strangers from Craig’s List, to the Salvation Army on Eighth Avenue, and to the rubbish room. There isn’t an impending move to a new apartment. No boyfriend to thank (or blame) for the purge. Just a gradual awareness that these things no longer define Alberto or obligate me. And that the monthly storage expense could be more wisely spent.
My mother’s timely visit to NYC means not only a pair of helping hands, it means hands belonging to someone who understands if I stop and sob now and then. Or share the story that goes with that gallon of paint before tossing it. It also means I have a witness when a plastic storage bin suddenly starts playing a Sinatra song.
Ssshh, Tré—listen! Do you hear that?
I do…it’s ‘Night and Day.’
Is it coming from your phone?
No, it’s coming from…that box.
We lean toward the sound, absorbing lyrics.
Night and day, you are the one.
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun.
Whether near to me, or far,
It’s no matter darling where you are.
I think of you.
Wow, she says, wiping her eyes.
For a moment, I see this scene as Mom is seeing it: music strongly associated with her daughter’s late husband is inexplicably coming from a 20-gallon bin during the clean-out of said husband’s storage unit.
I kinda wish I didn’t know the source of the sound.
Wish I could pretend it isn’t coming from a motion-activated Christmas ornament, which my Dad gave to Alberto and me.
But I do know, and so I confess.
Well, Mom says, that Christmas ornament’s got good timing. You’re keeping it, right?
All afternoon, as we sort and shift and stack, the bin serenades us. By the ninth or tenth rendition, I find myself humming along, mixing around the words until they sound less like a sentimental track from my past and more like a present-tense affirmation:
Near or far
No matter darling
Where all our things are
I think of you.