20080925

legacies and paper trails

A dear friend of mine committed suicide recently, unexpectedly. I was looking through what she left behind with her brother, and we found a little box full of receipts. Her brother figured she was just keeping a record for herself, but the box intrigued me. I asked if I could keep it and he said sure. I put it in my bag.

While he continued looking through her things, I was looking through some of her jackets. She liked wearing jackets and had a lot of them. And the pockets were mostly full of receipts. Some were faded so only the server's name was readable, or only the restaurant, or only the price. Some were to places I had no idea what they were or that she had ever been to.

I spent the evening poring over these old receipts. They told me nothing, were kept haphazardly in a dusty box, obviously never looked at again, but there was something that kept her from throwing them away. There was nothing unusual about her spending habits, no way to create some narrative from it. Perhaps that was the story. I wanted something unusual. I wanted a marked deviation towards the end, or some dark secret that was revealed in a receipt for $17.76 at the grocery store. It's information for accountants, not for bereaved friends.

I saved a few of them. Times I remembered, things she'd bought that I recognized. I keep them in my own box, and never look at them. But lately I've taken to keeping my own receipts and putting them in the pockets of my jacket, just in case.

1 comment:

Janie Gleason said...

mmm.. this one is delicious. it is distinguished and dusty and sad.