The kids have been gone for a week, cruising with their cousin and grandparents, living in the lap of luxury and extravagantly unconcerned with what is going on at home. And so I am cleaning their rooms.
This could be a tale of woe, stink, and undead dust bunnies; in fact there was plenty of that and, if I hadn't bumped into my daughter's storage bench causing the front of it to fall off, that would be all that it was. As the contents of her life of hoarding came bursting out all over my feet I realized that something had to be done. I had to repair that stupid bench and avoid my teen aged daughter's cat fit. Simultaneously.
I was a teenager once, though my children don't believe it, and the thought of having my mother in my stuff would fill me with helpless fury. Certainly she read everything, trying to suss out my misdemeanors and motivations. Once she found a photo of my boyfriend (who I was not allowed to see) and me at a local amusement park (that I was not allowed to go to.) I found it tacked to the wall with a steak knife through his eye. Sweet memories.
But I digress. After about 4 hours of hammering and 3 trips to the hardware store I had repaired her sacred treasure chest and got about refilling it. I did it all without my glasses on so that I wouldn't invade her privacy by reading anything. Still, I knew what most things were since they had been there for years. She keeps everything that was ever meaningful in her life. Her autism is a closed world until you get to see her collections. It is only when you see the poetry, journals, drawings, boxes filled with unspeakable beauty that you understand where it is that she dwells.
I filled a box with every birthday card she has ever received and made a pile of all of her drawing pads including her first, filled with art that has become more sophisticated and compelling. Her journals made another stack. Some were filled, some had only a few pages of writing but they were all there. Her anthology.
Every model horse I collected for her, when we shared that passion, and two Barbies wrapped in gauze like mummies with jewels tucked into the wrappings to assure their passage into the afterlife. My breath would leave me, like I had been struck in my center when I ran across another object of her inner life made manifest. A blue sparkly box filled with polished stones and beads, her "good deed" jar stuffed with Jones Soda caps and every fortune cookie fortune she has ever been able to collect or steal. A ring holder, the kind that looks like a cupped hand, so laden with rings and bracelets that it looks like the pleading fingers of one who needs rescue. One solitary doll.
Through unfocused eyes, all of that stuff no longer looked like a hoarded cache, but rare treasure. My lack of glasses couldn't hide the richness and depth of feeling obscured by her aloneness. She is authentically an ardent lover of art and fiction, a child happily wrapped in family and her world viewed through unmagnified eyes was my weeks trip to another world.