Earlier this week I slaughtered hand-print turkeys, by the dozens. With them went a host of foot-print angels, Rorschach-blot finger paintings, and would-be Jackson Pollocks created by three children over years of early childhood education. I have tempera on my hands and a lust for papier-mâché.
I’m not heartless, of course. The kids, now teenagers, took an active role in deciding what to save as we culled five full-sized plastic storage bins. We’re almost done moving from their sprawling childhood home to our new, “adult-size” home, if adult-size is to real estate what “fun-size” is to Snickers. This transition is necessary but painful. I teared up as I dumped out whole drawers of half-used fingernail polish, broken eyeliner pens, and backless earrings, the perfect set dressing for a post-apocalyptic saga if it takes place entirely in a Claire’s.
Plenty of grown up stuff went as well, from peeling cookware to file cabinets whose contents are now in the cloud to oriental rugs that were perfect back when I wanted guests to mistake my apartment for a Ralph Lauren store (“I love the shrimp cocktail, but can you point me to men’s rugby shirts?”). The tchotchkes I’m keeping include an iron alms bowl, one of the only objects a Buddhist monk should own. I’m not saying I’m taking things that far, but if I did it would be the perfect vessel to make a meal out of our many now-discarded macaroni necklaces.
The evening of the arts and crafts massacre I went outside to pour the dregs of a bottle of windshield wiper fluid into my stepdaughter’s car, one fewer thing to move. As I pointed out various things under the hood in my best imitation of a real dad, we paused to appreciate a bat swooping in mad loops around the streetlight, dodging and darting so that we could barely keep up with our eyes. The new place will have streetlights, and bats, and daughters and sons. That, and my alms bowl, are all we really need. And maybe, in November, a turkey.