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Capsule of Time

November 30, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a sugar packet.

About 5 years ago, I sat with a dear friend in a coffeehouse. Not just any coffeehouse, but the namesake of a place I haunted for years as a teenager and college student. A place where I discovered chai and a little bit of myself. But they had recently changed locations and it was a wistful mix of old and new: the tables still wobbled slightly and the apple pie was still flaky perfection, but the paint was too intense and the melodic whirr of espresso machines was now punctuated with the keystrokes of people huddled over their glowing screens instead of the laughter of teens huddled over board games. It was different and it made me own up to the fact that I was, too.

The "new" Abbey

That night, our conversation turned serious as we sat in a back corner too bright for the tears. I can only recall the gist of that talk, one we’ve had many times since, but I can still feel the sugar packet in my hands. As words like sin and sexuality and salvation passed between us, I rolled the paper between my fingers compulsively…obsessively…desperately.

Roll, unroll, roll, unroll, roll, unroll.

I sat staring down at the white rectangle as it wrinkled and softened beneath my fingers, wondering how long the thinning paper would hold before the granules spilled out before us, using it as a rosary to cast dark prayers up to a God I wasn’t sure of that the paper would hold…that this friendship would hold.

As we cleared our dishes to leave, I ducked back to the table and shoved the sugar packet into my pocket. I held onto it for months, being gentle with it to preserve a little of what it used to be, all of what it meant to me. It’s long gone now, half a decade later, but I can see that grayed, withered pouch as sharply as I can feel the lump in my throat when I think of that night. It’s still going strong, the friendship, maybe even stronger as we grow into each other with each passing year. We’ve learned to embrace the deepest parts of the other, letting conflict tender itself into an aching acceptance.

Here's to another 15 years

That sugar packet has become a totem in my mind, a symbol of what I can withstand before I spill open, a relic of what true (platonic) love is: soft and familiar and lasting. We all have these objects in our lives; some build shrines to them, some bury them deep in the ground to return to later, and some carelessly or consciously lose them along the way opting to revisit them in memory alone.

I have many and I welcome the ones to come, excited for the emblems of my future self to appear and root themselves, shaping who I think I am, gracing me with tactile evidence of who I was when that, too, becomes a wistful mix of old and new.

Where are the totems of your life? Have you told their story?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. admin permalink*
    November 30, 2011 12:27 pm

    you’re amazing.

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