“Brown paper packages tied up with strings.
These are a few of my favorite things.”
Last night I attended a dinner held at the local church for the women in town. My friend Connie had urged me to go, to get out, to socialize. I didn’t want to. I’d have to get out of my yoga pants. I’d have to leave the comfort of my recliner. I’d have to do something with my hair.
“They’re serving dinner. It will be good to be around other women. We’re supposed to bring our favorite thing.”
“I have to bring my favorite thing to cook?" Oh, brother. I wasn't planning on COOKING tonight. "I’ve just been emptying the freezer…”
“No, dinner will be provided. What is your favorite possession?”
My mind raced. “Marley. Can I bring my dog to the church?”
“And mine is Star.” We both laughed. Connie was thinking about taking her camera. We both love our cameras; that’s true enough. I’d have to think about it. Even as I was resisting her invitation, I knew I would try to make myself go. I was spending far too much time alone. Being known as the town hermit wasn't exactly on my list of priorities.
After all of the purging I had been doing lately, I couldn’t really pinpoint a THING that I had that I could bring. "Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens" probably would have been hauled off to the thrift store. I was selling almost anything of value…my leather Harley jacket, my once-prized color laser printer, my KitchenAid mixer. Apparently, from all of the tears I shed over LISTING MY SKIS and boots for sale, they were a treasured item, but they’d be a little bulky to display at the church. I’m not very sentimental about jewelry, and have begun to sell most of what was in my jewelry box.
I had wandered through the house…pictures of my children, and other family members are prominently displayed in the house. Those are some of my favorite posessions. Paintings by my stepmother…I love Jackie’s pictures of the country roads inVirginia, the beach scenes, and the paintings of Marley. That last one would be a way to bring my dog to the church.
It occurred to me when I considered the lyrics of "My Favorite Things" that it isn't necessarily the THINGS that make the bad feelings disappear, it's REMEMBERING the things. I realized the one item I use the most, my computer, is a container for all of my memories. It saves all of those pictures, pictures of my family and Marley and the paintings, and more importantly, my memories. All of my writing, my letters, and my poetry is stored on my MacBook Pro. I would take my computer as my favorite thing.
At 6:30 sharp, I pulled into the parking lot. The cultural hall of the church looked like something right out of Pinterest. There were pink, yellow, and light green banners of pennants strung across the walls. The tables were set with gleaming silverware, vases of flowers, and a pink square plate atop a white charger. There was a brown paper bag tied up with string as a place setting favor. One of the organizers had directed those directing to make the room look as girly as possible. They’d succeeded.
Women greeted each other warmly, getting out of their seats to welcome friends as they came through the door. I saw a table of familiar faces, but couldn’t see Connie. As soon as one of my newer friends Cheryl saw me, she gave me a hug, and we found seats together. Connie joined our group within minutes.
After dinner, we were entertained by a small group of women singing “My Favorite Things,” and then each of us was encouraged to share an item we brought that was special to us. There were handmade quilts, family heirlooms of jewelry, kitchen utensils, family portraits, and a bag of chocolates. (A woman after my own heart!)
As I listened to the ladies sharing their cherished possessions, I considered what I had brought. It seemed so modern, so cold, compared to things others had selected, and yet, as I realized what it represented to me, I felt my throat tighten. I had poured my heart and soul into my computer these last few months. It had helped me sift through my thoughts, my emotions, my memories, and my pain. I had catalogued my blessings, my gifts, and my treasures with my writing. I had filled my hard drive with photographs of my loved ones, the places I’d been, and the things I’d done. My laptop represented everything that was important to me because it contained my memories. Those are the things that will be easy to take with me, and I will never sell them to the highest bidder.
Connie was urging me to share when there was a lull in the presentations. I couldn’t. I wiped a tear from my cheek, and someone else took the microphone. I looked around the room at these beautiful women who had welcomed me into their community four years ago when I was newly married, and so excited to join their little town. My circle of friends had expanded when Pam invited me to the Marysvale Ladies’ Luncheon each month at Donna and Rick’s diner in town. From that large group of women, I joined a book study group, and met some of the most spiritual, loving women I’ve ever known. I also became part of a small group of friends with an interest in photography. And now I was leaving. I was leaving my beautiful canyon, and such an accepting group of friends.
I finally stood to share my favorite thing, my computer, and to explain why it meant so much to me. I could barely get the words out. I scanned the faces before me. The room was full of some of my most recent memories, no less cherished than the memories of my distant past.
My favorite thing wasn’t a thing, after all. My favorite thing is people. I love my family and friends more than any thing I’ve ever owned. I’m so glad I have my memories because I can take them with me wherever I go.
My memories of Marysvale will be one of the last things I pack as I get ready to leave. Thank goodness, I'm not moving too far. In this neck of the woods, twenty minutes away is nearly considered neighbors.
"When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I'm feeling sad,
I'll simply remember
my favorite things,
And then I won't feel so bad."