When my mom passed away, almost 3 years ago now, I inherited all of her stuff. I got rid of a lot of it – well, most of it, really. I could’ve kept more of it, but I ultimately decided not to – and the reasons why would make for a whole other blog post. Essentially though, I decided that my memories of her don’t need to be connected to “stuff.”
When I went through her things, I learned a lot about her. In a way, I learned more about her through her possessions after she died, than I had ever known about her when she was alive. She was a very guarded, private person, even to me.
One thing I came across, and decided to keep, was a collection of matchbooks. They were in a drawer of a little wooden chest of drawers, about 2 feet wide and maybe 2 feet tall. The thing has maybe 9 little drawers. I found so many things in there – wooden candleholders made by my dad, little silver pill boxes shaped like chickens, a night light, a few stones and crystals, some tea bags. And one little drawer full of matchbooks.
Recently I needed some matches and remembered the collection. I figured I could keep them, and never use them, or I could put them to use. I pulled one out and The Boyfriend and I used them to light the candle in the tea warmer every morning, to keep the coffee warm in the Chemex. We used the last match in the book this morning. I’d never really looked at the matchbook closely. This morning The Boyfriend asked, “What is Stella’s, anyway?”
I looked at the empty matchbook. “I don’t know,” I said.
The Boyfriend got his tablet and Search Engined Stella’s in Alexandria Virginia. We found out it was a restaurant that had decor from the Forties, was located in Old Town Alexandria, had large airplane models hanging from the ceiling, and was now closed.
I remember my mom driving me through Old Town Alexandria during one of my visits when she lived in Arlington. Other than that, I had no idea what the place was except for what The Boyfriend found online.
Why had she gone there? What did she order? Who was she with? Did she like that place? Why did she pick up a matchbook? (Why did she even have a matchbook collection in the first place??)
I’ll probably never know the answers. There are a lot of things I’ll never know about her.
“Should I throw this away?” The Boyfriend asked, holding up the empty matchbook.
“I guess so,” I replied. He put it in the trash. I admitted to him that for some reason, it was harder than you’d think for me to let that object go to the trash. Some things are harder to let go than others, and the reasons why may not necessarily make much sense…
The boyfriend suggested I take a picture of it. I did, and then decided to write this up. I put the matchbook in the trash.