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Cast Iron Rhetoric

April 3, 2011

I’ve always been a collector. As a child, I collected coins and stones and Barbies and scraps of ribbon and myriad pieces of junk. As a college student, I collected words, saving pages from word-a-day calendars and working obscure pentasyllabic neologisms into my everyday speech and writing. I’m sure few of my university papers had a thesis, but all had rhetoric in abundance.

Sadly, underuse has cost me most of my vocabulary, and watching my grandmother hoard her way through various stages of senility before passing away a few years ago made me rethink my approach to gathering things. I’ve worked to detach myself from most of my collections – selling CDs and books and donating clothes that, realistically, fulfilled no practical or even really sentimental need in my life.
But I still collect notebooks. I’m a sucker for any cleverly covered pocket-sized notepad, and I’ve amassed dozens, one or more of which is always in my purse. Into these tiny tomes I dump various half-formed thoughts and amusing snippets of overheard conversation, along with the inevitable to-do list. My collection of notebooks facilitates an even more rewarding hobby: gathering phrases I hear that I can reasonably believe have never been said before.

Today’s entry comes from Boyfriend, who has taken on the role of Handiyogi at my local studio. It came in the form of a sheepish admission when I tried to drop him off to do some repairs after today’s classes had completed, his arms laden with a bucket of tools, sack of plaster, and shop vac.

“The keys to the yoga studio are in the cast iron skillet on my desk.”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

So I ran home to grab the keys while he sat on the steps of the studio guarding all the tools he’d just unloaded from the car. After two years with him, I know better than to doubt the facts of that statement, but I still wasn’t quite sure what I would find upon entry to the Man Cave. I dug through the outer strata of miscellaneous sections of last week’s paper and his growing stack of seed catalogs until there it was, just as he described. Sure as shit, there was a small cast iron skillet on the desk – origin unknown, as all of mine are accounted for in the cupboard and his kitchen wares were atticked when he moved in. The pan appeared to be fulfilling its destiny cordoning off certain small but high priority items from the greater mess of the Man Cave, and among those items were, as promised, the keys to the yoga studio.

Boyfriend and I are in different stages of thought on the collection of stuff. While I make semiannual trips to Goodwill with bags full of everything in an attempt to bail the crap out of the house faster than it can flood into it, he happily continues to bring home old dictionaries and oddly-shaped jars and third hand albums and, apparently, old cookware.

Perhaps because his mother is better able to coax her worldly posessions into order than mine was, he sees nothing wrong with filling the house to its brim. For me, clutter is stress, a symptom of overextended schedules and inability to manage daily life, and more than anything, of depression. Clutter is to be combatted daily, no item sitting in a Wrong spot any longer than it must.

For Boyfriend, clutter is just stuff that’s not lined up, neither more nor less meaningful than stuff that is lined up. His preference is to let nature take its course around the house, entropy shuttling items from temporary resting place to temporary resting place until the stars align and the second new moon of the season falls on a restless rainy Sunday, at which point an epic feat of organization will be undertaken.

Our approaches to yoga are similar.  I arise before 6am every day to practice, even on days when a lie in might be more therapeutic. He has been to the studio to work more often than he has for class, despite an avowed interest in establishing a regular practice to combat the wear and tear that construction and metal work have taken on his body.

I wonder sometimes how exactly I came to live with a man who would store his keys in a frying pan on his desk. But then, he’s also the kind of guy who would do work at my yoga studio to earn discounted passes that frankly only I will use. So I guess that explains it.

And at least the pan didn’t have any food in it.

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