$5 in a wallet, or a forgotten notebook. . . .either way a find

As so often happens, I was looking for something and found, instead, something else. In this case a spiral-bound notebook from ten or twelve years ago. I am a notebook hound. They’re everywhere – piled up on shelves, crammed between stacks of books, on the floor beside my bed.  Technology will never completely replace my love of a notebook and the perfect pen.

This particular notebook was at the bottom of a stack of books I read years ago which have languished, untouched, on a shelf in my studio. I wish I could say I had at least dusted the pile occasionally, but that would be a lie.  Finding a notebook you haven’t seen in a decade is like finding an old wallet and discovering a five-dollar bill inside. It’s not something that’s going to change your life, but it is kind of fun. I found poetry in this notebook. In particular, this one:

There is no comfort in the country
when a farm fails.
My father wanted to move us to Florida.
My mother cried.
“The kids won’t need shoes there,” my father said.
So we packed the car
with clothes, a hamper of food, and ourselves.
Roads unraveled before us, ribbons of dirt and tar,
rolling past fields whose owners we didn’t know,
every mile pulling us farther away from the hope
we gave up too soon.
My father hummed while he drove.
My mother set her face in stone and would not be moved.

I hadn’t finished the poem, but I remembered right away why I wrote it. During the last years of her life, my grandmother lived in a nursing home. Her short-term memory was shot, but she could remember everything from her childhood. Asking her questions about those years was a great way to have a conversation with her. I’d sign her out for the day and we’d traverse the area where she grew up. On one of those outings I learned how her father had tried, and failed at farming, and then decided to move his family from upstate New York to Florida, where he thought life would be easier. It wasn’t. They ended up back where they started.

I guess the poem was my attempt to imagine what it must have felt like all those years ago for my grandmother. I’d forgotten that I wrote it. And I’d forgotten my grandmother’s story until now.

Which means, that sometimes, finding a forgotten notebook is way better than finding a wallet with money in it.

My grandmother, Pearl Crawford, age 5, with her brother Ken, age 10

20 thoughts on “$5 in a wallet, or a forgotten notebook. . . .either way a find

  1. In a few lines, it tells a whole story. I tend to struggle with poetry and most of the time it makes no sense to me at all. I like this, you should write more. 🙂

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    • Wow. So glad you liked it. I think that maybe I will write more. And you should keep it up, too! I have a feeling you have the same problem I do – a grumpy internal editor criticizing every word we write. Let’s make a pact to ship that editor off on a vacation to the far reaches of outer Mongolia and write like fools while she’s away!! 😉

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      • Yes! that is EXACTLY it!! Sounds like a great idea, I’ll research cheap one way plane tickets!! 😉

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    • Thanks, Jan! You’re very sweet. Your comment reminds me of the first place medal I won in the American Legion essay contest when I was in 8th grade. Second and third place prizes were cash. At the time I wished I’d gotten cash, but I still have the medal and that is a very cool thing!

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  2. Thank you Mary – a very lovely and loving memory recalled. A beautiful, definitely finished poem. Ah, the perfect pen. (I used to buy and beg/inherit fountain pens and bottles of ink. I’m sure I can find them … some … where. If not here then in Apopka. Or were they abandoned in the cross-country move?)
    Your diverted (for me, it would be ‘distracted’) search reminds me of what I’ve been doing recently. Still working on two memoir collections – poems and stories – for ‘enhanced’ iBook editions; but also on a collection (memoir, again) of erotica(!); and now, this morning, I have also begun a chemistry student’s guide – as another iBook. All this because I have begun using Apple’s “iBooks Author” application.
    There must be something I am neglecting … lunch prep? My dear beloved? …

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    • Thanks for your very kind words, Ray. I so appreciate it. Blogging, sharing my thoughts, and now – Gasp! – a poem, has been challenging for me. It sure doesn’t come easy. Whereas, you and your dear beloved are writing almost at the speed of light (or so it seems to sloggers like myself). I’m thrilled and excited for you both!

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      • Me matey writes lightning fast – often with fine result – while I only seem to be doing something useful at the keyboard.
        I do think you should try more poetry!

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