Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Proof of Life

Rob and I have a storage unit next door to our apartment, a room that--without exaggeration--can be accurately referred to as a death trap. I went there this evening to look for my birth certificate, which I apparently need in order to get a marriage license in New York.

Our storage unit is not small. We've upgraded from two crawl spaces to an entire room that is filled wall to wall and floor to ceiling with...I don't really know what. But what I was looking for was a very specific box, one that contains letters, cards, photos, concert tickets and other memorabilia I have collected since high school. I was pretty sure that if I had my birth certificate, it would be in that box.

So of course the box was across the room, at the very top of a stack of other boxes and a cat carrier. I climbed onto various suitcases and plastic bags of clothes no one ever needs to wear, finally discovering the sturdy surface of an old wooden table. As I stood on tiptoe and lunged for the box, I was suddenly certain that I was going to fall, crack my head open and win a Darwin Award for being the idiot who died while looking for her birth certificate.

When I gracefully (you can't prove it wasn't graceful) liberated the box from its perch, I sat with it on the floor of the building, and spent half an hour looking through the things I have decided to keep: airmail cards sent when I lived in Paris, notes tightly folded in the way only high school girls can fold notes, a blue raspberry Airhead in its wrapper, letters I never sent, and a typed letter from my brother--mailed to me when he was 11 and I was in college--that unexpectedly caused me to burst into tears. Also my social security card: no real visceral reaction to that one.

The birth certificate was nowhere to be found, but it's a big room and I'll visit again. There should be plenty more opportunities to maim myself in a freak storage accident. In which case, I bequeath the memory box to my sister and the cat carrier to Rob.

1 comment:

Jay Nicolosi said...

Good Luck!

I think if you need a replacement it's a relatively easy process, but it would have to be done in Cook County (assuming that's where you were born). I think there's some "records" office in Forest Park, actually. My mom had to get me a replacement birth certificate for some reason while I was away at college. There is a commically nominal fee of like $1.25 or something, as I recall....