Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things we Treasure

Published July 4, 2014 by Liz Ault

For our final assignment, tell the tale of your most-prized possession. If you’re up for a twist, go long — experiment with long form and push yourself to write more than usual.

I’ve read and reread this assignment. Many thoughts on most prized possession vs. the things we treasure. They can be totally polar opposites. My “things I treasure” were my dolls, but they never were, technically, my possessions. They were Christmas and birthday gifts from my parents. They had strings. But still my most treasured. Also treasured would be my two wheeled bike – girls 24” Schwinn.

Possession would be my first car that I bought and paid for on my own. No Santa, no parents (okay, a bit of help from dad), no siblings, no nothing.

Conditions would be the more appropriate word. What came with conditions and what didn’t?

Technically my first car had a condition. Dad got it and signed all the papers, he expected me to make all payments, and then it would be mine. It was a 1976 Chevrolet Chevette hatchback. It was a lease to purchase. $3600 cost. $100 plus tax each month for 36 months. I also had to continue my own insurance. Once final lease payment was made, the title was signed over to me. I never missed a payment, never.

So, I think that would qualify as my first “possession.” By 24 I owned my own car free and clear.

I have to reflect back on the Schwinn that wasn’t technically mine, but gave me the first taste of freedom. My mom would send me with some cash to a neighborhood corner store for missing ingredients for dinner. Somewhere 8-10 blocks away from the house. When we moved the summer of ’68 the area was not fully built up. Oh, the places to discover and just get away from everything.

One event shaped the way I thought about possessions. What was mine or what was yours. If something is yours, it is up to you and keeping, selling, giving away or anything is up to you. Just you. Some may think, “Grow up!” But it had nothing to do with it. That’s a catch phrase that doesn’t deal with the real issue or issues.

I had moved out of my parents’ house twice. At 25 I was living there. I was also 25 when I lost Hoot (my grandmother). My birthday was always a day I felt life’s losses the most keenly. Three days after my 25th, Hoot died. No story here – no details to share, that’s not what’s important here. About a week after the funeral, after all out of town family had made their exits, I was getting back into my schedule.

Saturday was the day I went to practice with my bag pipe band. I was a bass and tenor drummer. We normally went out to lunch after practice. It was typically about 3 pm when I returned home after our practice and extended lunch. Later if we were in a parade.

As I drove down the street, I saw a Goodwill truck driving toward me. It looked like it was pulling away from my folks’ house. Turns out it was. Dad had decided that this was the day to clear out the garage and the attic. It was done without any forewarning. I felt the blood draining, and a feeling of dread.

As I approached the garage, I asked dad about the truck. He was pretty vague. I noticed immediately my Schwinn was missing. I asked about it – he said I had a car, why did I need a bike?

I asked what else went. He said he cleaned everyone’s stuff up. My bike was the only one missing. I went to my room. The floor below my triple windows was bare. Chatty Cathy, Tillie the Talker, the Beatnik doll, 1960 ponytail Barbie all gone. The Barbie car and wardrobe containing all her clothes was also missing. My room had been raped of everything except my bed, dresser, desk and stereo.

I ran to the basement, and my sewing machine was still there. Guess it survived since I made all my own clothes and did repairs to any clothing my family might need. I had purchased the sewing machine and the stereo.

I would have expected this from my mom. I was blown totally away that it was my dad that took these precious things.

Possessions? Treasures? They can be the same or totally different. They can be gone in a moment. I would have been okay in the long run if they had been lost to a tornado or other force of nature. Not from a force that should have been nurture for the previous 25 years.

I have 150 collectable Barbie dolls in my basement. Still in box – more valuable that way. I can’t enjoy them in the box or the basement. I’ve never been able to replace that loss – spent a small fortune trying to. Nor do I understand how it was all ripped away from me by someone who loved me.

Stay tuned – my posts are heading me toward some healing. Healing on my own terms!


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