Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Monday, May 17, 2010

Matt, Matt, You Have to See This

Okay, so we're moving, and I have been packing up our current house for about the last three weeks.  My middle son Matt arrived home from college late last week, and he was tired.  (It was studying that made him so tired, right??) Anyhoo, I was finishing up sorting through the attic, and Matt was sleeping - hard - one floor below.

As I was sifting through the latest pile of stuff up in the attic, I stumbled on the old, original toybox belonging to Matt and his brother Fred back when they were babies, then toddlers, then little boys, and I hadn't seen it or thought of it in years.  It has been covered by what we shall term "attic funk" for some years; air conditioners, Christmas decorations, cast-off furniture.  I ran down to get Matt, excited for him to see it.  "Matt, Matt, wake up," I said, urgently shaking him, as if I had discovered a nest of exotic baby bats up there, or a clump of diamonds that we had forgotten about.  "You have to see this."  Matt finally rolled over and woke up.  I felt a small flicker of embarrassment as he struggled to a sitting position; he is 20, and maybe 20 year olds aren't that interested in the toybox they had when they were 2...

We went upstairs together, Matt expecting, by this time, to see something really great.  I looked around furiously as we emerged at the top of the stairs; could I somehow, in the next seconds, see something else that I could pretend was that great - great enough to wake the guy up on his first morning home from college?  Nope...even the toybox is better than the other items we were looking at: an old Thigh Master, an old weight bench, a crumpled-up poster of dogs playing poker.  "Okay...here it is."  I might as well go for it; really build it up.  "Can you believe I found this?  I mean, can you believe it?  It's like an antique!  Your old toybox...WOW!"  It was as if an antiques auctioneer was going to stop by the attic at any moment and offer us thousands of dollars for it. I pointed down at it enthusiastically.

Matt sat down heavily if unsteadily on a three-legged chair and put his chin in his hands, staring at the toybox and saying nothing.  (He really was quite tired!)  He looked up a me.  "You need to get out more, Mom," he said gently, as if to a toddler.  We both laughed, and together we went through the old toybox.  His 20 year old hands touched the toys that used to be the gems of his heart when he was 3 and 4 years old; the old dump truck, the little book about the rabbit, the scarred wood blocks.  His expression turned softer as traces of memories came back, of a simpler time when he and his brother had no worries and nothing but time.  Before the world got so complicated.

I'm not going to wake him anymore when I find something great - unless I come across the hula-hoop he used to be (and still might be!) so good at.

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