I’ve been collecting without considering my collection and its worth. Not those cut class honey keepers and crystal syrup pictures nestled with the wine classes. Not those twist ties in that skinny drawer in the kitchen or the ball of rubber bands rolling around in that same drawer. Not fast food condiments though they do shift from place to place in the kitchen. Not those boxes of mismatched photographs in the coffee table.
I’ve accumulated pencils.
I didn’t even realize it until yesterday. There we were at the dinner table. Dropped next to my placemat was a single pencil. This is fairly unremarkable. I am constantly doing crosswords, writing notes, making lists, solving the wordle on paper before filling it in electronically, so one lone pencil there on the kitchen table seemed out but in place. My gaze shifted to it’s soft blue and the words that mimic of children’s print on the side and immediately I was taken back to when I grasped that pencil in my hand and dropped into my handbag.
Look, I said, Mildred Berry Center… this is from Sis’ memorial walk. I don’t remember, he said. But I did. I remember the sun shining at the end of the walk. I remember wanting to remember that day. Reaching out I lifted one, maybe two pencils off the table, was that twenty, twenty five years ago? Yet here it was, that pencil, to remind me of that moment, that woman, that honor, the honoring.
I began to consider the dozens of pencils filling many containers in my house, in the literacy center. What stories were those pencils there to remind me of?
Past jobs.. places we had visited
… our children’s childhood. Bright pencils with their names stamped on the side. Football teams from some back to school shopping, miraculously returned home at the end of the school year partially used, still willing to write down this week’s menu or a fleeting idea.
One pencil from the college I taught at thirty years ago, I can picture the late evening standing in a teacher’s room grading scantrons using the pencil to darken the circles or record the results.
Valentine’s and Halloween pencils, some of their markings rubbed away from my hand, my pencil box or my bag. Special state testing pencils with their distinctive jet black visage meant to give confidence to their users.
A pencil made from recycled material, Vera Bradley pencils, one with owls, one with a poem…. accumulation.
All that accumulation… I hadn’t really given them a thought. That’s not exactly true. Each time one slips itself into my grasp as I begin to write, I notice it in it’s steadfast number 2-ness. I think for a moment about where I’ve been, the lessons I’ve learned, the journey and I gain just a little strength.