Perishable Product

That’s what it says on the top of the battered, cardboard box. The box is at least 25 years old and probably older, knowing how my mother reuses things. I know it’s 25 years because it still has the parcel post stamp on it. She sent it to my place in Alaska on June 25, 1989. I invite you to sift through it with me.

Perishable product. I suppose, in a way, it is perishable because it contains the ephemera of my youth. My 8th grade graduation tassel, from when graduating 8th grade was a big thing in your life. That was before the rise of the “junior high school”. Then, there are the old, handwritten guitar graphs from freshman year of high school. And the other music, from when I still had a voice. Lieder, opera arias and “art songs”. A collection of worn books from the early 1900’s, courtesy of my voice teacher, Holmes Ambrose. They were part of his collection before he retired to Arizona and taught me.

The poetry, pages and pages of it. Existential angst of a teen. Some good, some bad, and some that just are what they are. Pleas for understanding and rescue from a girl in a bad place. The chapbooks and small press’ that published me so long ago rub rag paper against sheets of loose leaf that are foxed, flaky and faded.

Programs, from when I was aiming to be a “star”. Play upon play, musicals, and light operas. All those lines and phrases memorized for a 4 night/2 matinée run. There are even a few scripts in the mix. Must have really wanted those as my teacher made you pay $5.00 if you didn’t return it. My make-up shirt. A blue denim workshirt embroidered with the name of every show I was in until after college. The dreams of youth die hard.

Papers, newspapers, zines and other things that I wrote for, copy edited or published. “Western Express”, the first “gay” newspaper in Arizona. I was the token female straight. I keep the first run print copy in memory of old friends who died too young. “A Stab in the Dark”, a sci-fi fanzine from back in the day, when we still called it “sci-fi”. I got paid in tickets to fan events and conventions. I got the tickets, did the interviews and then wrote the story. There’s even an old con badge in here, along with a sketch an old friend did of me at a con. Feels like ancient history now. Even some of the people I got autographs from are long gone.

“Ravenwynd”. Gods that was an effort! We did get Janet and Stewart Ferrar to come to an event in Alaska though. A copy of each of the printed magazines including inserts. We went digital back in 1991 I think it was, before “everything” was online. The online back issues are still out there on the net.

The last bits of high school and college are here too. Graduation invitations, tassels, and diplomas. The class T-shirt from GHS class of ’79. Funny thing is that this doesn’t make me want to go to a class reunion. I considered it once, but they hadn’t been able to find my two best friends from high school and, if they weren’t going to be there, I wasn’t either.

It seems so long ago, and I suppose it was, it’s been 25 years since anything more could fit into that box. Funny, for something so perishable, it’s survived move upon move as well as unkempt storage. I have a feeling it will be a box they move when I’m gone. As I said, the dreams of youth die hard.

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