Who Am I?

I have been sitting in front of the computer for at least a half an hour with one foot up on my chair and my head on my knee, staring at the wall. The blank white screen taunting me. “Can’t get it together today, hey Pam.”

My own monitor shortens my name.

When I was in high school I asked the youth group leaders wife “How are you? What do you like to do? ” She told me what her husband was doing and what  her children were doing. I asked her again. “No, that is not what I meant. How are you?”  She looked at me, and didn’t understand. Thirty seven years later  I can still see the blank expression on her face.  She really did not understand my question. She couldn’t see herself as an individual separate from her family. I didn’t want to be her when I grew up.

Who am I today?

I met a friend last month who I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. He was an investment banker and I was a photographer in Tokyo in the 80’s. He asked what I was doing and I told him what my husband did and what my children were doing……..   In between changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking meals, packing and unpacking as we moved across the country several times,  I forgot to unpack myself.

I am  sitting in  a large cardboard box,  my arms around my legs. My head resting on my knees. With me in the box is the bear tooth necklace my father made for me,  the letters my mother wrote me when I lived in Japan, a silver spoon from the Yukon, the trip down the Saskatchewan river with my father,  the kibbutz I lived on in Israel, a box of letters from my husband, my  birth certificate  and my marriage license.

This afternoon I cleaned out my studio in the basement. It had become a storage area for lids that had no containers to cover, toys that my children had outgrown, and fans that we won’t need for several months. In the corner of my studio I found a large box that had been taped shut.  Strange that I had not opened this one when I unpacked last year. I pulled the tape off, and folded back the flaps.

The box was empty.

I paint. I write.

Ask me again tomorrow who I am.


17 responses to “Who Am I?

  1. This is an incredible slice. So clear, so visual, and so full of punch with just words – just words! Awesome

  2. I love your line, I forgot to unpack myself. 25 years ago, I started my first book club because I kept meeting women who said they hadn’t read a book since they’d had children. I vowed not to become one of those women. I’ve always had a book club in my life since then.
    Keep finding that precious time to paint and write and find yourself!

  3. I’ve been feeling much the same for a while now. Kids are grown and my purpose in life fulfilled. I am The Velveteen Rabbit who was loved and is no longer needed. Trying to remember who I was before them … and who I am now.

    • My dear sweet Velveteen Rabbit. You are the friend that walked with me and shared her popsicles. I pray you find out who you are now. Do you have any orange ones for me?

  4. I am so very thankful for our conversations about “who I am” and “what I do.” How powerful the image of not unpacking yourself and the empty box.

  5. You DO write, I read it and you always push me to think deeper when you write. I’m sure you paint, although you’ve not written about that, yet. You have lived in so many interesting places. Your adult life has been quite the journey from the snippets you’ve shared. Keep unpacking that life.

  6. The line: “I forgot to unpack myself” is powerful to me. I like how you wove through time in this little slice. I think that’s hard to do as a writer & you made it work. I’m glad to be privy to your “unpacking” word by word and line by line.

  7. What a powerful slice, Pamela (shame on that monitor for shortening your name!). I love your line about not unpacking yourself. It’s easy to forget about ourselves, isn’t it? I am starting to get a sense of who you are from the “packed” you I see in your slices. I look forward to seeing the unpacking to come!

  8. Your writing is so powerful, Pamela, so strong. The way in which you go back and forth in time is very effective. I can’t help but be in the box with you; I can’t help but rest my head on my knees with you.
    The box is not empty. It’s full of space.
    P.S. Connections galore – my son lives in the Yukon, and I spent one summer on kibbutz in Israel, oh and, I studied art before I became a teacher. We should go for coffee. 🙂

  9. There are empty boxes, but many others that are full of so much, packed away and left in the basement of the soul, the attic of the heart and mind, forgotten.

    I’m taking great joy, delight, inspiration in unpacking with you and others. Your writing has strength and clarity that I admire a great deal.

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