when the spirit moves you. or you move it. or not.

Everyone leaves something behind when he or she moves; the exceptions are two, maybe three in all the apartments I’ve cleaned.

I’m speaking now of regular moves, not evictions where residents leave an entire apartment for us to clean out.

People have left behind clothing, jewelry, kitchenware, pots and pans and flatware. Canned and boxed foods, bathroom products, cleaning products, small furniture. Once I found a syringe, on a top closet shelf, fortunately still in its plastic case.

A “love” note begging the druggie ho to quit selling her body and meet up, crumbled up in the back corner of a top kitchen shelf. That was the highlight of the finds. Until yesterday.

I’m cleaning this place that was inhabited by  a woman and her two young kids. She left behind lots of little things … PEZ candies … a family-size can of spaghetti sauce with mushrooms … plastic cat-food container … a large tin containing tiny plastic bottles of blowing bubbles … small coffee grinder (which is nice ‘cause I’ve been mulling one) … microwave popcorn bags … rolls of toilet paper and paper towels.

And that was just the kitchen.

On the shelf in the upstairs bedroom closet I found a box containing:


this easy-rider moose

this hanging monkey (what is it with me and monkeys lately?!)

this bear


this box.


This box. Of ashes.

With it I sat on the bare wood floor holding it, examining it. I shook it. In response came the muffled cushiony whoosh-whoosh of its contents.

I wondered who Christian Daniel and Andrew Lee might be.

Surely relatives since they and the former tenant share a last name. I wondered how it came to pass that they share the date of May 19, 1995.

Also lying inside the bottom of the cardboard box from the closet was:


an airline luggage tag with her e-mail address on it. So I can inform her of the box left behind and let her decide accordingly.

People leave behind the most interesting items, sometimes. And near always on a top shelf.


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