The Foot Locker

FootLock1I’ve been carrying around a coffin.

From place to place, it’s hulked in bedroom corners—a musty, scuffed thing, festooned with cobwebs and containing the rotting corpse of my early life’s memorabilia.

It’s my foot locker.

There’s no serial number, no stenciled lettering, no nothing. Just a metal plate that reads: “Poirier & McLane Corporation, Falconer, NY 1947.”

There’s also no record in the early diaries (1972–1978) of how I acquired it. It could’ve been Dad’s old Army-issue, but that’s doubtful. I would’ve remembered that.

More likely, the Family Project bought it at a garage or estate sale.

You see, when Grandpa Adams visited us he and Dad used to hit auctions, estate sales and such. Grandpa was always scavenging around for used camera equipment; Dad likely saw the foot locker, then bought and gave it to me.

I’ve been sorting through its photos, letters and memorabilia lately—I knew that one day I’d have to take inventory of its contents.

FootLockerInsideWell, not much of value, actually.

Why I kept a fabric wristband from a summer camp game played decades ago is beyond me. Or the 1973 and ’74 wall calendars from Dad’s den on Casco Point, with nothing memorable written on them.

Then there are the notebooks, sketchbooks, love letters from old girlfriends and birthday cards. Lisa’s letters. Friends writing from their respective colleges. Gift and novelty catalogs. Science catalogs such as the ones Edmund Scientific used to send, like the Scholastic and Bantam Books I ordered by mail when I was a kid.

And then there’s the red and black poetry book.


Labeled “Poetry Vol. I Miscellaneous Works, Writing, Fiction & Nonfiction,” the slim 8 inch by 5¼ inch ruled account book is 144 pages, with only 47 of them filled with poetry. The first poem, “The Egotistical Cat Walks the Shelf,” is dated Sept. 22, 1976.

I’d taken the poetry book on a family vacation, likely to Bayfield, Wis., that year. A second poem, “The Gospel Truth,” added on Oct. 2, was one of the few times I remember actually reading one of my poems to my brother aloud:

This poetry book just killed a fly
After many times of trying
It’s hard back cover swiftly caused
The reason for its dying

If the fly hadn’t been so bold
To land upon my knee
Possibly the light of morning
Tomorrow it would see

The warning now is plain and clear
To every prowling fly
A hard back covered poetry book
Is quicker than the eye.

It’s odd to recall it now, especially after reposting “Fork in the Road” last week. I remember Brian chuckling at the poem’s absurdity.

But what lingered with me was his “why-would-anyone-bother-to-do-this?” look—a look I often got from the Family Project, or other non-writers.

At the time it really stung.


My planet. My country.

My state and city, my neighborhood…

My parents, my house, my car, partner, children, my … self.

We’re all living first-person omniscient—it’s the mold into which everything fills, from bottom to top and into every corner.

From the center of each person’s being, the world is constantly created: “That’s my dog. There’s my backyard. This is my boat. Here’s my life insurance policy, my 401(k) balance.”

My foot locker.

FootLock2Who truly owns anything? And moreover, what does ownership even mean? Is it mere possession, or is it a form of stewardship?

What if I just gave the foot locker away, maybe to some kid who really needed it? Put it up for sale on eBay? It might fetch $100, if that.

The notebooks, diaries and journals, of course, must stay. They are as much my body as anything.

But the memorabilia is pointless, outside of some vague nostalgia or kitsch value.

Someday the Family Project cupboard and dining room table must also go the Way of the Dinosaur. I’m feeling a strong pull away from things that I don’t use daily. Accumulating things never squared with my values and—with the possibility of a big move in almost a decade—jettisoning stuff that’s no longer needed is just downright practical.

So, I look back at the foot locker—a hard look, as I never did before.

It doesn’t radiate joy or contentment any more than a coffin would be appealing as a buffet table.

That goddamn dark box is the sharp steel trap of memory, waiting for me to step into it again and remain ensnared.

I hadn’t realized that before.

I see it now.

Maybe when you bury things, it’s important at some point to turn away from the cemetery.

And just keep walking.

~ by completelyinthedark on March 28, 2014.

One Response to “The Foot Locker”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Feeling these days like “endings” are over and done, and new beginnings are … just beginning. All-new post next Friday!


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