We start in apartments, and we end in apartments, and along the way we leave lint.
Lint is one of those things I never thought about much. It just is. You have to get rid of it, especially from the dryer.
Doing laundry this week, I noticed - as if for the first time - that lint is not random. If you are doing a load of whites, the lint will be white. If you are doing a load of jeans, the lint is blue. I know ... not very profound.
But to me, it was jarring to realize that lint is not simply dust and junk from the air - lint is actually a little bit of the clothes that is a lost during the drying process. I suppose, if I dried my jeans enough times, there would be nothing left but the button and the zipper.
If you have been reading my blog, you know that my Uncle Charles died a couple of weeks ago. For the last few years of his life, he lived in a two bedroom apartment. Come to think of it, he lived much of his life in an apartment - they call it a "flat" in London - but the last one was smaller than where I lived during law school. He had sold much of his stuff and moved into a small place that he could manage in his advancing years.
I remember how proud I was of the first apartment Gena and I lived in as a married couple. It was just a two-bedroom apartment, but it had big closets and a "dining room," and we thought it was cool.
We start in apartments, and we end in apartments, and along the way we leave lint. Here is what I mean. Since that apartment, Gena and I have lived in a couple of houses. They hold more stuff, more people, more memories. Along the way, we have left little bits of ourselves in neighborhoods, in towns, in jobs, in churches, hopefully in friends. While we have no plans to do so now, we may well end up in an apartment again some day, just enough for us to manage in our advancing years. Between now and then, we will leave a lot more of ourselves around. Some of our lint will be white, some blue, some dusty, all of it a part of ourselves.
There has been some great lint left in my life. Uncle Jerry left a wry wit mixed with a love of writing. Granddaddy left his smell when I hugged him. Great Uncle Sam left the joy of giving small treasures. Mavis left the model of what a friend is. Della left her song. Jenny left her resolute goodness. Jimmy left the sparkle in his eye. My father-in-law left a quick smile at a quiet joke.
Many of you, still living, have left your lint with me too, little parts of you that stay with me even when you are far away.
I think ending up in an apartment is the right thing to do. I think that means that you don't carry all your stuff with you. It means you have left things as you have gone. It means you have focused on leaving little bits of yourself in your world.
We start in apartments, and we end in apartments, and in between we leave lint.