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Relationship Hope Chest

Friends and I have talked about what you see in your mind when you think of certain things. When I think of the days of the week, I see the days set up like step-ladders; except Wednesday is not at the top of the ladder like you might think, it is Saturday. When I think of colors I see a booklet of paint swatches in my mind. One friend of mine says he sees colors as either male or female and usually they have scents associated with them.

I see my heart to be a big wooden antique chest.

The antique chest in the attic that Grandma stores quilts in, complete with the rusty lock and scuffed corners, delivered straight from Norway 120 years ago. When you open it, it smells like maple wood and moth balls and fills you with a sense of longing. I imagine the people in my life like trinkets or knick-knacks that I store in my antique chest. When I think of a particular person, I imagine pulling them out of their spot in my chest and examining them. If the person is someone I feel very tender or sensitive about, I unwrap them from tissue paper and cup them in both hands.

People who have hurt me or that I dislike are like crunched-up paper balls lying in the dark, dusty corners of my antique chest. When I think of them, I imagine picking up the paper and flattening it out and smoothing it with the edge of my hand. If what I think about comes back to hurt me again, I crumple the paper back up and throw it back in the dark, dirty corner. There is often a single, naked light bulb hanging over this corner with a pull string. When I am tired of hurting and thinking of negative things, I imagine tugging the pull string so the light goes out.

People who are fun and bubbly are bouncy balls. I pick them out of a bucket that sits in another corner of the chest. I toss them from hand to hand and smile. People I don’t trust sit along the back wall in a line. They are carved wooden figurines, like the one Po Campo made for Deets in Lonesome Dove. I never take them out but just look at them and wonder.

The people who give me ‘warm fuzzies’ are not figurines or other objects, but feelings, like big Grandma hugs. They are soft and warm (and often a supple peach color) and make my heart glow. There are people I completely admire and respect above all and I pull them off a little shelf in the chest. Often times I imagine myself dusting these people off—not because I don’t think about them often—but because they are not recognized often enough, by me or other people, as being truly special.

When I think about myself, I am one of those I unwrap from tissue paper. But when I unwrap myself from tissue paper, instead of a figurine or some other object, I always unwrap a butterfly. The wings are fluttering softly to some rhythm I do not understand and I cup it in my hands so it does not fly away.