Color Me Purple



Urgency Day 65

500 Things Items 423-431: Picture frames

  • History: Stashed, neglected, now part of a larger project
  • Value: Originally, at least $100
  • Parting Pain: Yes, for the neglect they represent
  • Un-possessing: Gifts, probably

Have you ever been a stuff-sitter?

By that, I don’t mean a hoarder; I mean a caretaker of someone’s stuff. Similar to being a baby-sitter but with no diapers and probably less Ipecac.

Twice during our early years, Paul and I were piano-sitters. This was great, because “practicing” gave me another way to delay writing papers for English class. One of our piano-sitting gigs required a quite-spectacular hoisting of the piano up a steep flight of stairs to our narrow apartment over the Wallpaper, Paint and Guns store in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

For some residents, that’s called one-stop shopping.

We piano-sat while our friends were off having adventures and traveling the world. It was before we all started settling down and having babies. Dogs we had and even some stuff like pianos, but no babies. When we started having babies, these particular friends with the piano did some major negotiating with each other to keep adventure travel in their lives: She agreed to live on a boat for a year; he agreed to have another baby. Once they got home.

I was the happy caretaker of not only their piano for several years, but also of the fantastic purple cupboard pictured here. In fact, several years turned into several more years. We even paid to move that piano three times! (Those were peripatetic years.)


Our friends eventually reclaimed the piano which was a family heirloom, but through a sequence of, oh, hazy events, I kept the purple cupboard. I’m pretty sure this involved some, oh, shenanigans on my part, but I really tried to assuage my guilty conscience by paying them for it. They laughed and returned my check, and simply requested a fun evening together with our now three children over a home-cooked meal.

This never happened. More guilt to assuage.

When you loan something to someone, do you always expect to get it back?

I’m thinking of books here. When I “loan” someone a book, I make sure it is one I can part with. I’m just as guilty as anyone of forgetting to return a book, or, after finishing it, sending it farther along the friend-chain. So I’m never upset when a book doesn’t return.

But books are different from pianos and cupboards. I was a grand caretaker of the piano– maintaining it, keeping it tuned and moving it when our circumstances changed. And returning it, absolutely. The cupboard, however? For some reason, it has never quite felt like it’s mine.

I’ve had it for thirteen years; my friend had it for two. “Ownership” is covered in law school, right?

But where I think she gets her certainly unlooked for revenge is in the fact that this cupboard doesn’t just embody my guilt; it encases it as well. Behind those lovely purple doors is an untended, unsorted and sadly neglected hodgepodge of family photos. Yes, the self-righteous Queen of Organization has a very tender Achilles’ heel: The woeful state of her pictures, snapshots and photos.


I had to address this mess and clutter the other day when I was posting Father’s Day photos. Timing is everything: It’s time, past time, to tend to my guilt and my photos.

And yes, guilt is a far better leveler than vengeance.


5 Responses to “Color Me Purple”

  1. melanie Says:

    1. When you no longer want that magnificent cupboard, I’ll assuage your guilt by re-homing it for you. 2. About your sorry state of photo-dom: Me Too! SOS! 3. Naperville is a city rich in resources, but nothing like a store that has it all such as Wallpaper, Paint and Guns. Those three things go together like towels, sheets, and and battering rams.

  2. sthibeault Says:

    I think I will be wearing the cupboard around my neck like an albatross for the rest of my days. But thanks for wanting to take on my burdens, babe.

  3. melanie Says:

    I’m just selfless that way.

  4. Donna Says:

    Can anyone tell me how long to expect it to take if I try to scan all of my photos into my computer and organize them that way?

  5. sthibeault Says:

    When I scan photos for my little Project here, it takes a ridiculous amount of time per pic. No way is my set up capable of handling the back log I’ve got.
    I have 2 suggestions for us: 1. We find a week sometime to tackle your pix and a week for mine. Think of the stories we would share! Or b. Get a Groupon for one of those scanning services. xxoo

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