Sabreen Adeeba explores one moment in time, reflecting on a situation that is common to many in today’s teeming, urban society. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns

By Sabreen Adeeba

Nell ran her hands through her salt and pepper Afro as she sat in her newly rented room. Her few possessions were cased in Rubbermaid’s and plastic cartons, vessels that concealed numerous life lessons, segments written in tablets, journals, logs, poetry, and typed documents, containers filled with misplaced dreams, yesterday’s memoirs. Nothing spectacular, but it was the oxygen that allowed her to breathe, discern.

Shipwrecked on her final passage, Nell sighed as she pondered over how much to unpack. She thought, “Bare necessities will do.”

Nell had lived out of Rubbermaid’s or anything similar for many years, and little had changed except age. She had gotten older; wiser remained to be seen.

Life had become a Gilligan’s Island, pillow to port, that brought no stability or constancy. Just another room to rent.

Nell’s eyes scanned the room. There were two old photos on the walls, an old desk and dresser that had been found in an alley, she learned. 

A nightstand with a nail for a knob sat near a bed hardened with time. A rusted ceiling fan squeaked with every turn. There were loud sounds of traffic heard from her window with a view.

Without warning, tears flooded Nell’s face with emotion, a testimony of her journey. Sobs restrained, Nell felt lost, isolated, and alone. No children left to send or receive holiday greetings, grandkids to sit at her feet while she created new stories to tell them. That ship had sailed long ago, with the why’s and how’s.

Time had passed, darkness covered the room. A decrepit floor lamp she had not noticed before stood on its last leg, leaned to its side. Head bent, shoulders broken, another product from the alley, but it was all she had. The floor lamp wobbled while she switched the buttons.
Once the light came on Nell looked for the Rubbermaid that held her linens. Nell was tired and wouldn’t consider unpacking this late at night. After pulling all those containers up the stairs she needed to rest, get a good night’s sleep.

The containers would be there tomorrow with sunrise, containers that store the accounts of Nell’s life passions and the many lives she touched. Her untold travels and narratives would someday become bonded works of her existence.