Material Love

Today I started thinking about different kinds of love. Some say it’s not cool to love material things. But as I look around this room, I’m immersed in material things I love. And unlike some of the non-material kinds of love I’ve known, these things are here for me, day in and day out, carrying memories, giving solace. 

Each item has significance and value, like my Grannie’s upright piano, built in the 1940’s, coffee brown with nicks and scratches revealing its maturity and sophistication. How I loved the lady who played “Alley Cat” just for me, when as a little girl, I’d sit underneath the piano bench in my own magical world.

My Hummel collection is a source of love that springs from a glass cabinet with antique Hummel wine glasses, a music box, and precious porcelain figurines in the likeness of children bearing gifts, sharing a song, weathering a storm. Hummel blessings are portrayed in charcoal drawings from Germany.

I couldn’t leave the antique store without the school master’s desk, late 19th century oak, that sits in my room, facing open windows where nature takes hold of my senses. The desk cajoles, woos, and even seduces me to write as if the school master himself were sitting there demanding to see my work. 

To the left of the desk is my wall of inspiration. A print at the center represents the 1945 painting of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s “The Reader Crowned with Flowers” or “Virgil’s Muse.” On either side are framed quotes by Hemingway and a poem prompting “Be fearless in the pursuit of your dream.” A Sid Dickens Memory Block defines “Joy,” a state of happiness. A modest wooden shelf holds a miniature Victorian typewriter and two pocket-sized bibles. One in Spanish, the other in English, gifts to my grandfather on the day of his First Holy Communion, May 15, 1908. How could one not love such things?

And then I begin thinking of colors. Blue is the 1972 GMC four-wheel-drive pick-up truck my dad drove. That old truck held a hell of a lot of stories. Before I was a teenager, I’d sit in the middle seat next to Dad and shift gears. Sometimes I’d shift too soon before the clutch was in, grinding the gears, and we’d both laugh, shouting “Hamburger!” He taught me to drive that truck once I was old enough. “If you can drive this ol’ thing, you can drive anything,” he would say, showing me how to “ease the clutch,” when starting on a hill. 

My son was twelve when Dad took him out to the boonies to drive the pick-up. Nick would later tell me, as a high school senior, “My truck was in a long line of cars today and kept dying. Everyone sped around me to pass, honking their horns, and I was late for class.” His 1972 blue prized possession was surrounded in the parking lot by Mustangs, BMWs, and Audi’s, yet it may have outlasted all those fancy cars. Nick will never forget that pick-up truck or the familiar stories Dad told him over and over again. 

My infatuation with yellow started with a housecoat the color of daffodils, faded to flaxen sunflower gold. A gift from a lady named Lesley Haley for my 8th birthday. She somehow got the idea I was named after her, and though I didn’t know her well, she always remembered my birthday. The yellow housecoat grew with me; its hem once kissed my ankles, its sleeves hovered at my wrists. Now drifting above my knees, its sleeves rest at my elbows. For more than 50 years, it has held together minus its buttons, with only one small tear. Embroidered green flowers nestle between two rows of lace trimming the seam along the front. 

In every shade, yellow has defined all that I love about life. Light, warmth, safety, neutrality, and simplicity. Playful. Roasted corn. The start of a new day. 

As a teenager, my bedroom was yellow from top to bottom. Yellow shag carpet, yellow curtains, matching bedspread, and a yellow teddy bear now ragged and worn, sitting on a high shelf in my closet. Photos of the yellow formal gown I wore to prom, and yellow roses delivered for no reason at all, remind me of the guy I wept for well beyond senior year. 

Now I think of yellow in all its tones, the warmth of the sun, juicy citrus on my tongue, and the scent of fresh-cut lemongrass. In the morning, the rite of Spring. A polka dot skirt. In the afternoon, the yellow of jackfruit or honey locust, until it melts away into the night. 

It’s material love that never fades, in all its colors, consumes my heart, lightens my soul, brightens my days, a lasting love, that won’t go away.

Author: Leslie J. Cox

Leslie Cox is a writer of creative non-fiction, focusing on personal essay and memoir. Her essay “My Favorite Chair” was a runner up in the WOW! Women on Writing Q1 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest, and she published two essays in “Her Vase” in 2020. Her essay "Distracted" appeared in the Pure Slush anthology: "Love, Lifespan," and she has enjoyed contributing to guest blogs and book reviews. Prior to semi-retiring from health care administration in 2019, Leslie wrote and published trade articles and a guidebook for health care professionals for HCPro. When she’s not writing, Leslie tutors students K-12 in the craft of writing, and that fills her up!

2 thoughts on “Material Love”

  1. I am just amazed at your incredible writing! Thanks for taking the time to put your blog together so that you can share with everyone. Hope you have a great Christmas🌲

    Like

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