I’ve got my work laptop and my personal laptop open next to each other on my grandfathers desk. My grandma was going to get rid of it, sell it, but I had too many memories of it to let it go. This big. wooden. desk. Exactly the kind of big wooden desk any kind of grandfather ought to have. I didn’t know much about family or tradition until I was forced to carry it on myself.
I’m on my computer looking for T25, a horrible fitness routine you can do in your living room if you want your curtains to smell like sweat and self-loathing but also mildly of accomplishment. It’s almost the new year. It’s almost time for another me.
I pull up a folder full of mixed goods. FOCUS T25 ALPHA. The training manual for my job at Fred Meyer. A meme with a cat in it. A copy of the app Slack. A grant draft. And a letter from my mother. Dear Lo, I always wanted to have a daughter, it begins. The next file is a book she wanted to write. It’s a few sentences long. The title of the file is book.docx. The file after that is my intake form from the gym down the street. We’re back where we started.
I’m staring at this folder for a while. Here in this folder, a combination of some of the least important and most important things I’ll ever read. So improperly secured. My laptop, sitting dead for weeks on end while I used my work laptop in it’s place. Maybe I’ve been going about this wrong. Maybe there’s some merit to the slowness of this old machine. I think, I think, awfully too much thinking.
My grandfathers desk used to sit in his office which later became the room in which his hospital bed raised and lowered. I don’t quite know the progression. We’d play cards and my grandma would ask me to find a deck. I’d run to the old desk and pull open the half-stuck old drawer where I knew she kept her cards. Decks on decks on decks of cards. They all smelled like old books, musty and well-played. Her parents cards, and their parents cards, cribbage and hearts and solitaire generations before me. I didn’t know much about family or tradition until I was forced to carry it on myself but now I understand these cards, and these letters, and this desk. They’re all living and breathing things.