When we came back from Japan, we brought a wooden step-stool with us. From adult hindsight it must have been cedar, because it was red and had a scent. It came back to Colorado, went with us to Texas, and then to California, where it was part of the kitchen. The shoe-shine stuff lived in the box formed by its base; and Mom sat us on it to cut our hair. It was part of my life from the age of four, when we were probably about the same height and I was probably most aware of its smells, to perhaps fifteen, when first it was painted, and somehow lost some of its soul; and then disappeared entirely, like my father, of whom it was a reminder, without trace or explanation. That was one of my earliest conscious experiences of the importance of apparently non-significant things; and the irretrievability of feelings and their understandings which objects hold for us and enable us to let go of and then have for us if we return, when the object is lost.
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