Last time Max and I were together in Jersey it was springtime. We bought some daffodil bulbs, and then went for a walk on the beach. I found a scallop shell – a big one. I carried it with me as we drove up to mum’s grave. “It’ll do for a shovel.”
We planted the bulbs in the soft soil above mum’s grave. We carefully replaced the turf. Better than flowers that die, a planted bulb. I left the scallop shell there, propped up on the grave. At the time I didn’t have an inkling that I’d be going on Camino in the coming year, walking so long for mum and for Peter and for me. But returning there today, the shock of that shell went right through me. In Camino terms the scallop shell is the signal that you’re on the right path. And on Camino you get up every day and follow the path until you’re spent.
There it was, that shell, waiting for me after a year’s journey and a years progress. Maybe the seeds were sown with the bulbs. Often our unconscious knows more about the future than our conscious.
The bulbs we planted? They are turning into beautiful flowers. “Keep going.” “One step at a time.” “You’re on the right path.” A touching reminder of how wrapped up mum was in my whole walk, and delivered in a timely fashion just four days before the anniversary of her death, which can be a tough time.
My car is full of shirts though… Yay?
I have reached and exceeded my stuff capacity. If someone was to call up and say “Bring your van, The Queen is throwing away all her junk and she thought you might be able to use it in theatre,” I’d probably have to say “Thank you marm,” but take it to the dump and charge her for the rubbish weight. And gold is heavy.
Every spare moment now has got to be for sorting, categorising, jettisoning, donating, selling or repurposing. The hourly rate will be worth it if I can list a lot of things even if I only sell them for a tenner. But I’ll have to put the hours in. I’ll need to know what we have for plates for Carol. How many busts and of whom. What potential costume wonders… Done right it’s a very very big job indeed.
The Jersey hospice shop have the sorting thing sorted. It’s a wonder to behold, but they have an army of people volunteering and it is so well organised. I dropped off many loads there. You are met by efficient retired men and women, experts in their field. “Books over there clothes over here.” They take everything. I expect their grandchildren are round the back googling things. Surely some of it goes on eBay but enough of it goes out on the shop floor to lure people from all over the place to buy it. I used to love it as a kid. “Aladdin’s Cave” was always a phrase associated with it. It really is.
For the people on my end, you need to be in a particular headspace to go through everything as forensically as I just managed to do. The few items Peter had with some resale value – I found them. I might keep them, I might not, but I know what they are. His Gucci loafers. They’re in my shoe size. His trilby. I’m wearing it…
I don’t have an army of volunteers to sort the rest out, although Tristan and Jack have variously lent a hand already but with loading more than with triage. But as soon as this is written I’m going to break out my diary and start blocking in official units of time where I treat it as my job to sort and sort and sort and move and move and move. Once it’s done the pathways are in place for me to do the same with my mother’s stuff in the attic, my own stuff from childhood, my grandmother’s stuff, my father’s stuff in the Isle of Man… I’m not moving into a big house anytime soon that will need furnishing. All these things could be making money rather than taking up space or costing money. And if I ever feel the lack of stuff I can go to auctions. It’s all about the pathways. The first time you do something it’s hard. The next time less so. And every time after that it’s easier and easier until you wonder why you ever thought of it as hard in the first place.
I’m in the boat again, on the dark sea between Jersey and Guernsey. In an hour I’ll crash out on my expensive recliner and hopefully sleep a happy night before loads of driving tomorrow and carrying heavy things for fun and profit. Off again. I’ll be back in a month I reckon.