C's bookshelf: read

The Peculiar
Maggot Moon
The City and the City
The Road
A Certain Slant of Light
The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Brown Girl in the Ring
Well Wished
The Innkeeper's Song
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
American Indian Myths and Legends
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Return of the King
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers

C S Peterson's favorite books »

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Missing Piece

I am deep cleaning my house this summer.  We moved to Colorado from Connecticut four years ago.  We packed in a hurry, scooping up whatever came to hand and filling box after box.  Although we gave away a lot of stuff I remember marveling, as I packed, at the amount of junk we still had: clothes that were no longer worn, papers that were probably not that important, a favorite puzzle with a missing piece.  We unpacked in a hurry as well, and dove into our new lives.  

New house, new job, new schools and end of life care for my parents all eclipsed house cleaning in priority.  This means that at the start of this summer the boy’s room, whose youngest occupant is now eight, still had shelves filled with the favorite toys of a four year old.   Alphabet blocks and electronic Lego kits competed for space.  The floor was ankle deep in school papers and hot wheel cars.  The boys went to camp the third week in June and I plunged in with a large shovel, determined to create order out of chaos.  I became a whirlwind of organization.  Papers were shredded and recycled, toys given to friends with younger children. After I had vacuumed I sat still and quiet on their little couch for a long time just relishing the calm and the order.   I ran my fingers absentmindedly back and forth along the edge of the clean rug when my forefinger detected one last piece of junk.  I yanked it out from under the rug with a shout of disgust and then stopped as I beheld a marvel.  I held one small jigsaw piece belonging to a detailed puzzle of the solar system.  I, of course, knew where the puzzle was now but this piece had gone missing about ten years ago, when my eldest was eight!  It had moved in the ebb and flow of small pieces of junk, from one child’s toy box to another’s drawer.  It had survived the babyhood of two inquisitive toddlers, a move halfway across the country and my recent take no prisoners vacuum job.  I don’t know if it is a metaphor for something profound or just a sign of my insanity in letting all these little drawers full of odds and ends remain in our lives.  But Oh!  What a feeling of satisfaction when I put that piece back in its puzzle.


  1. I'm surprised you still had the puzzle! What an interesting piece about cleaning out. You showed the backstory, moving down the path to extreme organizing/cleaning, then surprised me as you told about the find. I wonder if the message isn't "the past is still here, and although it might look a little different, you haven't lost the memories"? I like your writing, Katie!

  2. What a marvelous find.
    I know what it is like to put cleaning and order on the back burner as life takes you for a ride! But now this puzzle is complete.
    Take time to enjoy...before the next ride!

  3. I can imagine the sense of triumph you felt when you found that piece! There is also nothing like the feeling after you have tackled a room and created order.