Recently we performed a makeover on our third-floor walk-up space in our old house. The house was built around 1904.
The third floor was most likely designated at the time as space for a maid. That same maid also has a back stair so as not to have to use the fancy front stairs.
In all cases, I have kept my eyes peeled for over two decades of living here. No maid has appeared. Within the first few years of residence, it seemed safe to use the third floor for something more useful than our non-existent maid.
The third floor is a huge space. Vast and bright. Over the years it has morphed from storage to an office and playroom, to family room to hang out space.
Finally, in the past few years, it has been BoyWonder’s bedroom space. Moving him on up meant I could no longer see the mess on a daily basis. That worked for a long time. We love it. We love it more now that we can see the floor.
The space was looking pretty rough when GirlWonder and I decided to tackle it. We knew we wanted to create a clean, fresh living space for BoyWonder. What we didn’t know is that we would end up traveling through time to do so.
One of the first pieces of furniture we faced was an old steamer trunk. Wood and leather. It had been years since I had bothered to open it up. I had the vague sense that it contained belongings of Mr. Wonderful and I pre-marriage.
I lifted the creaking lid to the soft scent of Love’s Baby Soft cologne. Inside I found a jumble of yearbooks, jackets, handwritten letters, an afghan my great-grandmother made for me when I was a baby, and quilts.
Tucked in among the folds was my favorite bedtime toy — more a ragged lump of stuffing than a discernible animal shape at this point. I know he was a pony. GirlWonder seemed skeptical.
As I carefully lifted the flotsam and jetsam of my life as a teen and young adult out of the trunk, our 20-year-old daughter pounced.
She exclaimed in glee over my oh-so-80s puka shell necklaces — I’ve been looking for one of those! I resisted the urge to ask why? and handed them over.
She slid my bright red Theodore Roosevelt High School jacket on and ran her fingers over the neatly embroidered Kym Foster in script at the waist.
The 86 on the arm may as well have been from 1886 as 1986, so complete was her delight in that antique find. Go Rough Riders!
She also found an awful lot of handwritten notes passed during and after classes and recognized some of the senders names as those of current friends on Facebook. Don’t say I didn’t warn you folks.
We poured over old yearbooks where she discovered that the way we unfriended someone in junior high in the 1980s was to scribble out their face. Oops. Mom how rude! Of course whatever upset me enough to make me scribble out a face three-plus decades ago is now lost to the ages.
In my memory, I got along with everyone. My yearbook says otherwise. I chose to seize that teachable moment. Nowadays people can cut someone so publicly on social media that there is no coming back from it. In my day we quietly cut (or scribbled) them out of a photograph and usually, no one was wiser. We were better for it I think.
In musing over the scrapbook of fads and fashions of the era which shaped me, GirlWonder’s Adorable Boyfriend said to me, without a hint of malice, that he loved the Netflix series, Stranger Things.
He said he really liked all the old fashioned concepts and backgrounds the program references. For the record, the show is set in the long-ago prehistoric time of 1984. I was tempted to kick him but he’s a sweet kid, so I didn’t. As far as these whippersnappers are concerned my authentic 1980s Moon Boots may as well have been from the moon too.
In her zeal for all things old fashioned, GirlWonder claimed my university jacket and a pile of concert tees from the same time period.
She is now the proud owner of a slew of t-shirts promoting concerts held long before she was born. She intends to wear them with my old puka shells or, now that I think of it, a second set that belonged to my high school boyfriend (Jon R. if you are out there and need your c. 1986 puka shells back, I’m sorry. You can’t have them).
In embracing MY past, this modern girl is either going to look very retro — or homeless.
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