Have you ever played the game memory? You know…the card game where you lay all 52 playing cards down on a flat surface and you flip the cards over, one at a time, remembering where you may have seen the card that you’re holding, previously. It’s a mental stimulation game that some believe will help ward off the signs of mental degeneration as we grow into our old age. Or what about, have you ever placed your favorite item in a box for a few days, weeks, months and out of nowhere you get this wave of unease as though you may have left something behind…something important… something that brings about a sense of comfort, or peace, or happiness and you go seek that “item” out-vigorously…that’s the game of “Familiarity”. Familiarity is a tricky, emotional pull, that sometimes subject the soul to unjust and unrelenting torment because if attempting to get back to a place where comfort was more than a smile and happiness was more than just a feeling, but a tangible face, a whisper in the dark, a sliding of fingertips down brown skin, you may find yourself in an emotional padded room with a reflection you barely recognize.
I awaken a few months ago feeling like I may be missing out on something that I previously put away. Something that may be life changing. Something that I felt that I could not live without. This particular item was special. It was comparable to Linus’ security blanket-seasoned, worn, warm and available at that split second when life’s boogie man threatened to impede my child-like nature. I placed this something in a proverbial box insisting to myself that I had outgrown this item and that my mature SELF was enough to face life without the need of its warmth. So a few months ago I awakened, cold, shivering and missing my item. I awakened with that nagging sense of unease I mentioned earlier. I was missing Linus’ blanket and that inner, unsettling pull beckoned me to go retrieve it from the hidden space in which I felt I remembered I left it. I went back to my box. That box. In my house. In the corner, remember. That rustic, wooden box, passed down to me, from my grandmother, given to her by my grandfather which housed all the hand written letters from Him when writing letters, in foreign lands, of distant desires was the only thing that kept his mind at peace and closed the gap of loneliness. The one that safely kept the still photographs of ancient cousins, and uncles, and aunts; of faces I would never meet, but who I uncannily resembled, and admired, and who wore shoes I could purchase a hundred times over, but I could never fill. The box that held the trinkets of places where I had smiled, laughed and cried; in places where emotions were freely exchanged, where tears flowed from loving eyes and created trails down blushed cheeks, and the hand that erased those trails lingered , for just a second in case another trail began. This is the box where I placed my special something.
I pulled the box from its corner, unhinged its brass clasps and begin to dig. I dug through the neatly, nearly, calligraphied writings on parchment paper and came up with a paper cut. I dug further and soiled the photographs of my ancient relatives. Further and tainted the memories of my happier times. Even further and bruised my knuckles from frantically and manically digging and scraping my bare skin against unfinished wood searching for the familiar. I was desperately seeking the familiar-hoping that the familiar remained in this box and that it had not been moved, misplaced, set askew or modified by being placed aside in my quest to break free of its dependence. I vigorously sought this item while flipping over my world, one item at a time, looking, but also hoping that when I found this item that we still matched. So I continued to be battered by old trinkets and rusty nails and I cried from the pain and patched the bruises and I dug some more, being sidetracked by the similar, but not quite the familiar until finally I was knee-deep in a box which barely made room for my two hands. It was at that point that I realized my item had been there the whole time but because I dug and dug and picked and soiled and moved and disturbed that the familiar had been modified by me to the point where I no longer recognized it and it no longer recognized me.