December 10, 2007



Last week, I drove to my daughter's off-campus apartment for the last Friday lunch of the semester. She lives in a neighborhood of once-beautiful old houses that have been carved up for student housing. The narrow streets, crowded with cars parked as close as they can, curve up and down steep hills, and the bare branches of trees overhang crooked sidewalks. What used to be lovely old porches now hold trash cans and recycling bins.

I noticed a bag of canned goods on my daughter's front porch, a bag that's been there since some time in October. "Yeah," she said, "We got some flyer from the Boy Scouts or someone like that asking us to leave out some canned goods, but no one ever came and picked them up."

It was the last day of classes. Boy in Black and First Extra arrived early, stamping snow off their feet as they came in, taking spots at the little table in the bay window. Film Guy leaned back in his chair and announced, "I just had my last class. Ever." He's graduating a semester early. I'd stopped to pick up Chinese food on my way, and I pulled out the cartoons of food as we talked, piling rice and broccoli with garlic sauce onto my own plate.

I like the end of the semester, the finality of it. I've been going though the piles on my desk, the stacks on my office floor. It's time to file ideas that I didn't have time for, time to toss away material that's outdated, time to sweep the office clean. College students will be doing the same thing, piling textbooks and notebooks onto a closet shelf, tossing away papers, deleting files from their hard drives. At the end of the semester, all the good intentions of August crash into the hard edge of reality. It's a good time to let go of ideas that aren't going to come to fruition, give up incomplete tasks. It's time to accept the fact that no Boy Scout is ever going to come pick up that bag of canned goods that are now gathering snow on the front porch.


Yankee T said...

...and shame on the boyscoutsorsomeonelikethat for not following through after their appeal. Somebody could sure use that food.

YourFireAnt said...

Jo(e), this is great. It does in a few paragraphs what this book I'm reading tries to do in 200 pages. The book is something like The Feng Shui of Clutter. I should just print your piece and hang it on the bathroom mirror, and put the book aside.