I shuffled the pages in the box around, in hailing as I moved them, letting the smell of the box and the pictures and the letters really soak in (my friend yelled at me that I sounded like a squirrel rooting around, so I guess I was really involved in it). The smell of the box was so familiar to me, like a place I had been before and should be able to name. After standing still for a few moments, I had to close the box.
The next day, my mother and I drove to Houston for a conference. While there, we visited with relatives that lived in my great-grandmothers house. I saw the address and immediately felt a stirring of recognition when I put it into my GPS - oh! It’s THE house. Opal’s house. My mother said that the house had been passed from my great-grandmother to my great-uncle and then to my cousin.
We went to pick him up for dinner, and stepping into the house the smell of the box came back to me - it was THAT smell. How could this box, that has been closed for over 20 years (Opal died in 1992) still maintain the smell of its original owner? The last time that I was in that house, I was three years old. Yet, on some level I am certain I could recognize it. Which is not unusual - I know the smell of my other great-grandmother’s house that is still in our family (although I have visited that home more than once). When I hold my grandmother’s scarves (and she has been dead for ten years) I can still recognize her perfume.
I now anticipate exploring this genealogical treasure, still sitting in the corner of my room. Waiting patiently, as it has for twenty years, to be opened and acknowledged. I’m not sure what specific items lie in this box, the box that had been hidden underneath the cigar boxes for so many months sitting quietly. But I am going to go back to it. And soon.