Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin.
Their bedroom—I knew it by heart. The Trojan condoms in the bottom drawer of Dad’s night stand; a copy of The Bell Jar on Mom’s side; the shotgun in the back of the closet behind Oxford shoes; and the corduroy sport jackets Dad wore to teach English at our high school.
Mom’s dresser was a trove of white C-cup bras, half-slips, and a jewelry box that opened to a twirling ballerina in a white tutu. She had two kinds of perfume that sat next to the box: Shalimar by Guerlain and Cotillion by Avon. Shalimar smelled spicy and exotic, while Cotillion was delicate and airy. They seemed to belong to two different women. Two women I wanted to be, but didn’t yet know how to become.
As a kid, I took tiny inventories of Mom’s things: the jewelry in that jewel box (mother-of-pearl pin I gave her that said ‘Mother’, lacquered red rose stick pin, string of pearls she wore in her wedding portrait that hung in the hallway); the clothes on the hangers; the sensible shoes she kept in orderly boxes at the bottom of her closet; the Ginny dolls in polka dot boxes on the shelf above whose eyes opened and closed and whose tiny leather shoes had silver snaps. I conducted my inventories in secret, knowing Mom would feel it was an invasion of her privacy. I did it, perhaps, to hew to some form of identity for myself. I had been adopted and while it didn’t occur to me consciously at that time, looking back I realized I felt out of place. Or, maybe I was trying to find my place within the family via objects. Something always seemed to be missing for me, a piece of myself that I couldn’t classify, something within me but at the same time unreachable. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. I am not sure I will ever be able to recognize it.