I have a friend who is friends with a woman who recently met Courtney Love by chance in Hawaii and the two of them spent an evening in the hotel bar smoking cigarettes and talking.
Alas, nothing cool like that ever happens to me, and even if it did, I don’t have enough in common with Courtney Love to keep her attention for longer than it would take for me to light a match for her ciggy. I don’t smoke or do drugs (although I do swear like a sailor sometimes). I was never in rehab. I pretty much respect authority and don’t wear a lot of lipstick. I’m not tall or wear really cool clothes, and I can’t play the guitar or write music. I’m certainly not an actress and I was never married to a rock star.
It would seem that Courtney Love and I are quite opposite, but her recent decision to sell Kurt Cobain’s personal belongings made me realize that we’re not so different after all. We do share a common denominator: both of us were widowed soon after giving birth. That would be a subject we could chat about over a few martinis.
When someone dies, especially unexpectedly, he leaves behind all the ordinary living kinds of things – a toothbrush and razor, combs, aftershave, clothes, letters from old girlfriends, tax records, photos, school yearbooks, newspaper clippings, vacation journals, maybe a car and all the crap stuffed under the seats, trinkets and gifts that decorate the house, a CD or record collection, movies, a bike, a favorite blanket…the list goes on and on. Think about it. If you died today, all the stuff you own and use that make your life the way you know it would become someone else’s to deal with, and all that stuff has to go somewhere.
“(My house) is like a mausoleum,” Love told Spinner.com. “My daughter doesn’t need to inherit a giant…bag full of flannel… shirts,” said Love. “A sweater, a guitar and the lyrics to ‘(Smells Like) Teen Spirit’ – that’s what my daughter gets. And the rest of it we’ll just…sell.”
I gave away most of Bruce’s clothes when he died (I kept his bowling shirt) and threw out his toiletries. But I’ve hauled around boxes of his stuff from house to house to house, from marriage to marriage to marriage, and I’m thinking it’s time to lighten the load a little. Maybe it’s time to let our daughter decide what she wants to keep and what she wants to sell or toss. I have our wedding album, some photos, his letters and a memory. That’s all I need.
Well, that and perhaps the television.
Yesterday, I gave away all the things I was going to sell at a garage sale because I don’t have the time to host a garage sale. One of the things that has sat in my garage (and every garage I’ve had since 1983) is the Hitachi turn-dial 13-inch television my parents gave us for our wedding. When the guys were loading the truck yesterday to haul all my stuff away, the television was on the chopping block. But when I saw it there on the floor, waiting its turn to be lugged away like all the other useless stuff, I caved and told them to leave it.
I couldn’t let it go, even though it’s just sitting there reminding me of what was. I don’t need it, I don’t use it, so why do I keep it around?
Maybe it’s because it’s more tangible than a photograph. Bruce used this television. Touched it, watched it, moved the antennae around. We watched the last episode of “M*A*S*H” on that television. I laid in his lap, I was very pregnant and very emotional, and cried the entire two hours. We watched “Shogun,” “Winds of War,” “East of Eden” (the movie that inspired us to name our baby Caleb if it was a boy), “Family Ties,” “Fridays,” and “Saturday Night Live.”
There was no remote. We had to get up and change the channel. I liked watching his Wrangler- or Levis-bound ass as he walked to the TV and bent over to turn the knob. We fell asleep watching “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoons the first few days of Carlene’s life, she tucked between us, this little family. It’s the one functional thing I kept from our good life, our real life. I don’t want to let that go.
So what’s a little space in the garage? I’ll let Carlene go through the rest of the stuff. The television will stay where it is.
Maybe one day, Courtney Love and I can discuss the merits of keeping an old television set in a garage. I’m sure she’d understand.