I'm sitting in the Junk Room, so called because it's full of junk. While Skyping with my daughter today, I carried the laptop upstairs and announced we were entering the junk room. This seemed to interest her enough to ask me to rotate 360 degrees and adjust the angle of the screen so she could see the piles of junk. Three feet to the left of me are several cardboard boxes filled with old LPs. Behind the boxes is a broken La-Z-Boy recliner piled high with dusty blankets, pillows, half-crocheted things. Against the wall in front of me is a makeshift bookhelf--cinderblock and unidentifiable wood-slab construction--housing a few dozen mass-market paperbacks, mostly genre stuff: sci-fi and fantasy that I must have read sometime two and a half decades ago when this was my bedroom. Did I mention I'm living in my folks' house? I'm rapidly approaching 40 and have come full-circle. I kept my room tidier than this, though.
On the top shelf, above the books, there's a haphazard collection of pint glasses, wicker baskets, and wreaths woven from twigs and such. I also spy a small can of butane and a cardboard box containing collector drinking glasses signed by Clyde Drexler and other early 90s era Trailblazers. I don't know or remember where these came from. I don't remember being an NBA fan back then. I don't remember a lot of things.
I've dedicated this room as a temporary office chiefly because it has limited distractions. Basically this means no television. No cookies. No window to peer out. Here is where I will get "work" done, whatever that may be. Tonight it's writing on a topic I know nothing about for a few bucks that I'll toss in the fund to get back east.
In two weeks it will be a year since I last saw my daughter. Things are different now. She reads books and espouses opinions and happily discourses on her dog's diet, the habits of crocodiles and other reptiles, and the general unsuitability of raw tomatoes for human consumption. She likes to show me her henna tattoo. I'm still "daddy" to her but I'm not sure how much longer that will last. I've come to notice that recently, in the past few weeks, her mother has been referring to me not as "daddy" but as "Tony." Tonight E. asked me if I would read her another story and then she turned and said, "Mama, can Daddy read me another story?" Her mother responded, "That's between you and Tony."
"Tony? Can you read me another story?"
If I'm going to be slowly erased, this room full of junk, abandoned memories, manufactured memories, and just plain weird anti-nostalgia, is as good a place as any, I suppose.
"I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?"