12 July 2003
One thing that you notice about my office here at home (other than the
clutter) is that the walls and ceiling are full of cobwebs. It's true that cobwebs are a seasonal problem
around here, but some of these cobwebs qualify for landmark status. There are people
walking past our house on their way to school each day who were not born when the spiders
first spun some of these webs.
While it is a well known fact to anyone who has read this journal for any length of
time that housekeeping is not my strong suit, more than just showing my lack of
"clean gene," I think these cobwebs tell a different story.
Years ago--nearly 17 of them now--Gilbert told me that when he shut
a door, he never looked back.
While the cobwebs that cover my walls, cork board, shelves and books may point to
things that I have kept for their sentimental value, the cobwebs represent doors that have
closed. I hold on to things for a long time, but eventually, if the time is ever right, I
let them go--and don't look back.
I see out of the corner of one eye the script to my high school play, Trish,
in which I had the romantic lead (seems incongruous now). It is attached by a dusty cobweb
to a stack of high school yearbooks.
High school was a very special time in my life. I came into my own in high school. I
was an over-achiever of the highest order. I loved my school fiercely and was involved in
just about everything the school had to offer (except sports).
I am on the alumni list for the school and attended my 20th reunion back in 1980. It
had been a very small school (60 in my graduating class) and the women who came to the
reunion were not people to whom I was close. I found we had nothing in common and I had no
desire to go to another reunion. My circle of close friends was a small one and other than
brief notes at Christmas time, I have no contact with any of them. Mutual decision, I
suspect. It's a closed door which only opens a crack in December.
Hanging on the wall there is a paper apron, its checked pattern now almost entirely
faded. It is the companion to an embroidered pillow with a chewed corner which sits on the
shelf (the dog ate the corner of the pillow). These were gifts from the kindergarten class
when Paul was in school and I volunteered once a week to give "cooking classes."
What a project that was! The only day that I remember vividly was when the teacher decided
she wanted me to make fortune cookies for Chinese New Year. Well, all we had was a little
toaster oven which would bake 4 cookies at a time (there were 30 in the class). A small
group of kids watched me put the first 4 cookies on and then everybody lost interest, so I
sat by myself, no gloves on, so burning my fingers each time I tried to fold a cookie,
until I finished enough cookies for everyone in the class.
I have not made fortune cookies since!
There is also a "Gilbert wall," with a couple of pieces of styrofoam that he
used for a bulletin board. On one of them is the calender he hung there, still showing
July 1986, the month he died. On the other board are pictures of his great-niece (now an
adult) from age 18 months until about age 9. It also has Gilbert's obituary from the San
Francisco Chronicle. The board is thickly encrusted with cobwebs, as are the other pieces
of Gilbert's life that I moved in here after he died--photos, tsatskes, a note he left on
some music I had to disrubute, a matchbook from a restaurant we used to go to regularly.
All are covered with cobwebs and I know that I've closed the Gilbert door. I do cheat. I
glance back briefly on occasion, but I know that the door is closed.
There are a lot of things around here with cobwebs of varying ages. They all meant
something very special to me at some point in my life and I've managed to put them behind
There are also things which are newer, which still sparkle, which represent
things which are important to me today, which may or may not end up covered in cobwebs and
become doors which will eventually close. Only time will tell.
I think about cleaning up the cobwebs once in awhile. But I've come to like the
cobwebs. They say something to me about the journey I've taken along this life path, about
the things which I've lingered to enjoy and then put behind me as I continue to travel
Or it might just be that I'm too lazy to get out the vacuum cleaner and clear them all