I’m convinced that my mother has a secret compartment in the back of her closet that opens to a room filled with filing cabinets. There, men in visors type feverishly on old fashioned typewriters until my mother appears at the back of her closet to make a request for, say, a brochure from her 2006 trip to Canada or the Playbill from Bye Bye Birdie — the original 1960 production as well as the latest Broadway revival.
How else can you explain why she has so much memorabilia and informative materials at her fingertips and yet, no clutter in her house? She has no piles of anything, anywhere, and yet she can find whatever you ask for from whatever year dating back to before the construction of her house in 1965. I, on the other hand, have piles of stuff everywhere and yet, can find nothing.
She has birthday cards dating back 25 years, brochures, maps and books from Disney World from as far back as 1973 and brochures for spas across the Northeast Corridor. She’s got ticket stubs from New York Cosmos games in 1978, pamphlets from hotels where she stayed while visiting me at summer camp and maps of just about every state in the union. And she’s got a story for each of them, which she keeps in her head. (She’s probably going to correct my dates, too. You’ll see.)
In short, my mother is our very own Google. She just announced what she needs and the men in visors says, “Just a moment, Mrs. Perkins.” And soon, whatever she looks for is in her hands.
I am keeping this in mind as I consider cleaning out my own closet. I am certain I will find nothing of the kind that my mother retrieves whenever she disappears into her closet. If I do, it’ll be by accident, and then I won’t know what to do with it, because I don’t have a secret room with men who organize my things — until she dies and leaves it all to me.
“Just a minute, Mrs. Singer.”
Ah, if only I could be so lucky.