Today’s post was originally to be titled “Guilty Pleasures of a Nerd.” But I realized just moments ago that there has been a theme of sorts running through my life this past weekend, and the maze that is my mind suddenly pushed my thoughts for a post on paperback Star Trek novels and how uniformly badly they’re written into a dark, dusty garage where life, loss and letting go are intertwined.
Instead of spaceships and aliens, you get ruminations on the truly final frontier.
South of the Border, situated, not coincidentally, just on the southern side of I-95 at the dotted line between the Carolinas, hosts a plethora (that’s right, I said plethora) of billboards, garishly yellow, green, red and black, for hundreds of miles along 1-95. Two of those, one facing south, one facing north, read FILL YOUR TRUNQUE WITH PEDRO’S JUNQUE.
And that’s what it really is if you stop at South of the Border and peruse the aisles of wooden bins in the Mexico Shop, close to the giant, neon sombrero lighting up the southern night: a junk store, filled with cheap trinkets, straw hats, plastic toys and thin t-shirts, imported from our southern, salsa-fied and refried neighbor.
I have filled my trunque with junque. My trunque is called my garage, and in a wall of cardboard boxes, bent, torn, dusty and cobwebbed from the multitude of garages and U-Storems where I have kept them since I moved out of my mother’s house in 1985, is all the collected junque from not only all my trips to and from Florida with my family, Maria and her family, but the detritus that was left after my parents died: photos and scrapbooks of dead relatives, family bibles of people I’ve never heard of, postcards from the thirties, birthday cards from the fifties, war ration stamps from 1944, worthless stocks, deeds from old houses, and yellow-brown clippings of childhood poems, exploding warehouses, football games, births, deaths, graduations and marriages.
I even have some bumper stickers from South of the Border.
The garage has been a mess since last fall, when a used bookseller came by, rummaged through every box of old books I had out there, bought some, and left the boxes in a jumble.
We’d had enough. And going through the boxes to organize them somehow (thankfully, we did that in a day), I kept finding boxes filled with two things: old mugs and glasses Maria and I had bought as souvenirs from all the places we had traveled; and clippings, photos and correspondence, mostly about and between people long dead.
My mother was obsessive compulsive. I hadn’t realized that by the time she died in 1989, but I look back and see it now. She hoarded everything, would throw away nothing. She lived on a sofa surrounded by stacks of bills and old newspapers; and when the piles got too big, she moved to another sofa, or a chair, and the cycle began anew.
And that is my garage. I’ve kept things, thinking, this is my past, these are my relatives. How can I get rid of this?
The how is easy. It’s the why that’s stopped me in the past.
Why shouldn’t I trash this junque? Because it’s all a part of me. I had to keep it, didn’t I?
Why should I trash this junque?
I’ll tell you: because it’s baggage. It’s the leftover crap from a life I lived two-plus decades ago. It’s dessicated memories of people who have been dust since the ’80s. That is, the 1880s. It’s 8 millimeter movies I’ll never watch. It’s souvenirs I’ll never display. It’s jewelry I’ll never cherish. It’s a collection of books that have no relevance any longer.
It’s history that smells of dust and death.
I love Star Trek. I was at the second Trek convention ever held in 1974. I used to love reading the original novels. I was first in line for the reunion movie in 1979. I’ve even pitched story ideas to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Four of them, written down by one of the producers, were rough bases for separate episodes. (And no, I wasn’t paid or credited: story ideas are NOT copyrighted.)
I stopped buying Star Trek novels a few years ago because — there’s no other way to put it — they are bad. Stinky. Flies are repulsed by their stench.
I made the mistake last month of buying three Star Trek novels. I thought they had the chance of being, if not good, then, maybe — possibly — decent stories.
I was so wrong.
Like the junque in my garage, the Star Trek novels have to stop. No more. No more collecting crap.
The novels are being returned. The crap in the garage is going.
The baggage must end. When I move away from Richmond, I’m not taking those cartons of crap. I’m not hauling away those boxes of books I’ll never read. I’m leaving behind the warped furniture, the tattered dreams, the faded memories, the friends who aren’t really friends, the people who say they’re behind you all the way, but won’t even be friends on Facebook.
When I leave, it will be time to start all over again.
It’s time to go.
And it begins now. I’m sending a box of clippings and photos to my sister, who will pore over them and cherish them like jewels.
One man’s junk…
There are bags of ancient papers in the dumpster, and more waiting to be tossed. They will not be missed. There are boxes of Star Trek novels, from the ’70s to the present, that I may eventually put up for sale.
All I know is: they ain’t going with me.
I know what and who are important to me. And the shit that’s in those boxes, that I haven’t even looked at since I was in college?