Anne Horrigan Geary: Into the boxes, where decisions await

By Anne Horrigan Geary DALTON — It has been nearly 16 years since we shook the Cape Cod sand out of our shoes and headed back to the Berkshires. When we moved to Harwich from New Bedford in 1975, we used Bob’s father’s big old Ford station wagon for a few trips.

Our clothes and our cat, Smokey, went in our Chevy sedan. No moving company, no friends with pick-ups. We had only been married a year, so we had not accumulated much.

The same cannot be said for our trip to Dalton. We made weekly trips for four months, filling our little red Jeep pick-up to the brim each time. We would unload into the cavernous two-car garage, unpack a few things to bring into the house, and head back to the Cape.

Finally, Rainbow Movers filled one truck full of furniture and boxes, and we drove two very unhappy cats over the Sagamore bridge. We took our time unpacking the stacks of boxes in the now half-full garage. Some of those packed boxes are still in the garage, but we keep telling ourselves that this year we will certainly get to that furthest dark corner and see what treasures the boxes hold.

We will get past the riding mower, the snowblower, the mattress and crates in storage for our son, and the pallet full of boxes which have been added to the stash over the last 15 years. In our Cape Cod life, we had a summertime business which supplemented our school teacher income. We dealt in the buying and selling of antiques and collectibles, like half the population of the Cape.

It was called “The Bad Habit,” the bad habit being the fact that we bought more than we sold. We both loved old things, so in addition to paying for the groceries, we enjoyed buying stuff at yard sales in New Bedford on Saturday, cleaning it up, and selling it on at the Wellfleet Drive-in flea market on Sunday. A financial advisor told us to sell our inventory before we moved, but it was too hard to part with it at that time, and we hoped to continue our business as a retirement sideline.

That hasn’t worked out, so the Bad Habit boxes remain stacked in the corner of the now-full garage. My brave husband has decided to declutter the garage, in the hope of getting one car in there before the snow flies. This week he unpacked several boxes, and we jointly decided what to keep, what to donate, and what to trash.

A couple of the boxes contained vintage children’s dishes. I love dishes, and I especially love children’s dishes, from the time I had a small assortment with which I played tea party with my dolls and my cat. When the toy dishes were unpacked and washed, I sat at the kitchen counter and moved them around.

I didn’t actually pretend to drink tea out of them, but I did spend a lot of time reminiscing about the tea parties of long ago. A few of the cups and saucers were actually from my original collection, inherited from my older cousin. Something about those miniature-size dishes has a hold on my heart.

While I agreed to part with a few of them, I chose to keep some too. Wrapped carefully in paper, they will go back into another box, and back into another stack of boxes in the garage until who knows when. For now, I have to keep them; memories are just not enough.

I have to be able to unpack them, hold them, and feel the little glass cups in my grown-up size fingers.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.

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