50-Year-Old Corsages

In the dead of winter, I was finally ready to clean out nearly 30 years of memories.

Following tradition, I inherited the packrating gene from my maternal line. The tendency to appreciate sentimentality and affection attached to different items has led to a collection of the past, manifesting my own fear of forgetting.

A misplaced memory of my first kegstand returned after I came across the keg’s label identifying the Black Butte Porter, throwing me into that backyard summer night surrounded by friends. And finding that maroon bra, which I continuously wore in middle school, evoked feelings of my first exploration into color.

Between math tests, baby sweaters, plane ticket stubs, ill-fitting concert t-shirts, and high school graduation cards with forgotten bills (and an elapsed check), I discovered a pile of my dress-up clothes that belonged to my mother and grandmother. Squashed between the 1950s matching shoes and bags, were two ziplock bags of corsages. My mother’s corsages were dried and brittle, but they still stood for something: for her youth, her vitality, her future.

In the end, I kept the keg label, threw out the bra, and returned the corsages to my mother.

There is still the fear of forgetting – forgetting how I came to be who I am. But somewhere I already know that my existence, right now, honors everything that came before.

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