I released my grip, allowing for the two inch fall onto the rigid tile floor. I took a ceremonious step backward and admired my new living quarters. I was going to make it. At twenty-three, living with my father was a humbling experience. Years of trying to make it on my own, yet all I had to show for my effort was this decrepit cardboard box filled with personal memorabilia.
I sprinted toward the couch for some overdue relaxation and melted into its cushions. Phew! What a long day.
My father kept his place immaculate, so I knew it was only a matter of time before he would cite the newest contribution in his living space.
"Sweetie, what's in the box?" He inquired as he took a seat beside me.
"Oh, that?" I responded in my coy voice.
It's everything that defines me; the very reason I am who I am.
"It's just a few belongings I've held onto throughout the years." I muttered.
…and that was that - for the time being.
I peered out my father's window one brisk afternoon and found that snow from the winter months had liquefied into the already quenched earth. Beams of radiance danced through the clouds and came to rest at a lone tree that stretched toward the springtime sky. The soil must be perfect for a garden…I mentally chewed. Growing a garden for my father somehow appealed to me, that was, until I was reminded of the houseplants I had failed time and time again. With my father's extraordinary appetite for fruit, I opted for the store bought produce rather than courting another disaster.
I was still poised at the windowsill when my father approached me with a steaming cup of tea.
"Beautiful, isn't it?"
"Definitely." I sighed, as I pulled my sleeve over my hand and wiped away the condensation that formed on the window.
"Have you decided to unpack your belongings yet?"
I glanced over at the box, still situated on the floor where I left it months before. I actually forgot it was there. Nonetheless, it was there.
I pressed the mug against my lips and drew in a sip. Justify yourself. Make sense…
"There's really nothing to unpack. Just a bunch of memories; tokens, you know, from the past."
More like a 'quarter' of a century of past resentments. Lack of forgiveness for others who might not give a 'dime' about you. Bitterness. Anger. Jealousy…They're tokens, alright. The mere thought caused such a stir within me that I shifted with palpable discomfort. Father was not oblivious.
"It has to come out, somehow."
"What do you mean?"
He called my attention outside…
"It's hard to keep a chip on your shoulder if you occasionally bow down." He spoke to my unforgiving spirit. "To prepare your garden, you have to bend down in order to pull the weeds that threaten it."
He scooped my hand up in his and placed it on my heart. "The soil must be perfect for a garden…"
I finally understood and although my father couldn't do it for me, he walked with me as I carried my box - one last time - to the foot of the Dogwood Tree.
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