I have a friend who has helped me for years. He paints the outside and inside of my house. He boxes things up and helps me unbox later. He replaces broken stuff even light bulbs.
Some years are simple: Paint the outside of the whole house. Fix the hole where the squirrel has found his way into the attic. Put shelves in the closet that is never used as a closet anymore.
But some years are major: new appliances, new linoleum, sheetrock for the place where the ice melt found its way in the wall. This was one of those summers. If you are of a certain age, you will understand when I explain how I have come to think of my friend as Elton, the guy in the Murphy Brown television series, who never finished painting projects and pretty much lived at her house and knew it better than she did.
My friend will remind me when I am out of honey for morning tea. He will tell me when the man who mows the lawn came by with a question about weeding or he will sign for a parcel from the UPS guy. He has the garage door with the cockeyed eye back in sync. And he found boxes in the garage that date back to my first marriage. I was very Jimmy Buffet at the time of that move in 1979. There are actually boxes still marked "Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes." I was just too clever by half.
To add to the vortex of insanity, we moved our administration offices this summer. For five years we had been residents of the Main Street Mall with room to stretch out and honestly squirrel away boxes of forgotten stuff. In moving into an even larger space that became available in the fabulous Iron Horse District, we explored also our two storage units. We are an organization with a lot of stuff. A lot.
We have cutouts of performers we have used in marketing, so the ghosts of, say, Three Dog Night appear in life-size one-dimension cardboard next to the bright orange bird costume of a fabulous dancer from MOMIX. There are T-shirts from old concerts and CDs sent to us from acts you will be grateful we never booked. There are ribbons and streamers and crazy things we have used to decorate the Eccles Center lobby and stage.
Because there was so much confusion in the move during our busiest time of the year and I had projects underway at my home, I asked my friend to jump in and help navigate the move and the storage and to suggest order where there clearly was none.
This has resulted in an examination of treasures long forgotten and now resurrected: A tiny brass magnifying glass I used for a decade in staring at black-and-white photo contact sheets trying to decide which photo should be blown up in the darkroom a place full of smelly chemicals and made into a print to fill a hole on a page in this very paper. I immediately put that right on top of my new-to-me beautiful donated desk. Rolled up tight and tucked into a corner of the storage unit was a vinyl banner that once hung on Main Street from a project called Moose on the Loose we did with the Egyptian and Kimball folks The bright blue banner with the Lindon Leader terrific graphic jumped right off the edge of the fabric, just as it had been designed to do. I hung it right up on my wall.
Two dry-mounted posters took me back decades. One is of the night sky as shot through the frame of the Santa Fe Opera Company stage, a spectacular reminder of seeing Madame Butterfly there under the stars. The second was an iconic hot orange and yellow rendering of a famous view from Georgia O'Keefe's home in Abiquiu that is either of the winding road or the river, depending upon your/her perspective. That was from the same trip when I spent a week in a college dorm trying to learn about how to present performing arts before we had ever opened The Eccles Center. I was introduced to the basilica on the square on that trip and a great restaurant on Canyon Road where we danced until dawn. I made friends there I have still. The posters went up in the office.
Framed was a poster from another opening, The Egyptian Theatre, renamed and refurbished in 1981. Randy and Debbi Fields had taken the old Silver Wheel melodrama house and allowed us to return it to its original 1926 glory as a performance space. Pat McDowell had taken a stunning photo of one of the iconic tiles and we made a poster out of that. It seemed to need to join the crowd of memories and I hung it on the wall.
Then there is a barnacle resting on a flat rock. A brass heart engraved with the words "thanks" and a tiny white Steiff teddy bear, all in the office now, too. The ceramic modern angel in muted colors is watching carefully from the corner.
At home, the new washer and dryer sit on new linoleum against freshly painted walls. The old icky light switch has been replaced and new shelves have old dishes resting on them. None of my work spaces looks the same today as it did three months ago, but there is much that is familiar filled with comfortable memories and clean new work spaces that nudge me to make smarter choices every day, even laundry/Sunday in the Park ...
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.