On Materialism

I just bumped into this old thing I made and then erased. I couldn’t see any of the words, just a slight slip of grey above the photo.

The glaring lack of anything of material worth is there, and yet—

Well, let’s back up for a bit of context on why the photo struck me in the way it did, and why that matters. Because legally, technically, and in every other way, especially the way of just rightness, a man with no right to any of it, by using fraud and illegal means, is holding hostage – or more precisely holding hostage to self-aggrandize himself and hurt me – my inheritance which he has no legal right to and had to use illegal means to acquire by twisting the justice system to keep me out of court while simultaneously allowing the judge to believe I just didn’t show up of my own volition. And while that sounds suspiciously untrue or at least colored by some obscured fact, it is beyond true, beyond provable and incontrovertibly factual, and a story I’ll get to. Later.

I inherited enough Lalique crystal alone to pay my rent for at least a year and a half. Add the artwork not signed to me or my father and not a unique original, and you get another year, at least. Throw in the furniture en mass, from impressive china cabinets to lamps, a crazy beautiful inlaid wood table with deep and rolling, heavy, hand carved wooden chairs and black leather seat cushions that my dad loved and so did I. He first created there and from the first moment I sat at it in my home, as my table, the creativity continued unexpectedly and seamlessly, as if the table itself held an army of muses within it. No idea what the whole, immense, every-single-dish-ever-made Lenox Castle Garden set is worth, and have never checked.

Here’s a $99 plate and $899 for a “set” that doesn’t even come close to approximating ours. We had every single piece made. At least 4 different types of bowls. And serving pieces that seemed almost redundant. Two pitchers that looked like tea pitchers, but something differentiated them, although I don’t know what. I do know Mom bought them for the 525 Park Avenue apartment, and mom was always glad she scooped them up while she had the chance.

There’s the Waterford crystal decanters, vases and candle holders, the immensity of sterling silver serving dishes and velvet lined box full of “the silver” silverware, the voluminous silver serving dishes, all perfectly polished by my mother as she died, carefully and lovingly put in separate pillowcases, each with their own piece of chalk so that when I received them they were like new and protected — at least for a time — by the chalk. (It really does work.) The silver champagne bucket stand, similar to this stainless one although more finely crafted and usually used as a potted plant holder (except on special occasions) was nice, but unlikely worth tons of dollars. And since rating things that are mine, that I grew up with or which I may have even purchased or received as a gift, by a cash standard is hallow and weak, let’s go straight for those things which no price can rightfully be put. Like a playbill from The T.A.M.I. Show signed by every artist/group but The Rolling Stones.

Let’s break that down:

The Stones’ autograph is a glaringly sad omission, to be sure, but one my father certainly made up for in intervening years every time they had a concert tour, which probably goes without saying was a helluva lot. Dad ensured I missed not a one.

And that is just one tiny piece of priceless memorabilia we had. The framed music for The Christmas Song: (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), signed For Tami with love, Mel Tormé, and a thousand other countless memories marking historical events in theatre, music, technology or all three.

All are incontrovertibly my material possessions, yet instead I have weaved this home together like a bird weaves together her nest, from leftover scraps, unwanted plant parts, hope, and love.

So, I looked at this picture and saw—

[crates, plants that all originated from clippings of others’, a donated cheap plastic table/chest redecorated with leftover pieces of ribbon and some random silk flower parts from somewhere – glued in with Elmer’s School Glue – a sign rummaged from a construction site, a red tin box someone had trashed, the red glass bottom of a rusted out hookah, and an old picture of my mother I miraculously ended up with somehow; yet when I unexpectedly bumped into it just now all I could think is]

—that it is absolutely beautiful.

(Note the squirrel on my window ledge*— an addition which always makes a picture more appealing in my estimation. How I got her there, and much further, is a different story for a different day, but if anyone tries to tell you it’s impossible to train a wild squirrel unless you get it as a baby, tell them they’re wrong and you know the girl who can prove it.)

*I am up quite high and in a place no squirrel has any reason on earth to come. Just getting her, or her fellow squirrels, to climb up near the ledge took months of essentially throwing away nuts, every single day, to get them incrementally closer. Don’t try it at home unless you’re prepared for the odd consequences of a squirrel finally deciding to trust you, and therefore your environment [read: home].

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