Monday, July 22, 2013


Courtney Pierce

My husband and I moved around the country for over twenty-five years as we grabbed the swinging ring of a promotion, either his or mine. We didn't have children so it was fairly easy to uproot and go, although many times we had only a weekend to buy a house in an unfamiliar city. After everything was packed up by corporate movers, off we went. 

But we never dealt with our stuff. It went with us—all of it—right down to the boxes of my college music scores in the attic (I was a voice major back in the late 70s). We even moved the Beta Hi-Fi machine that didn't work, along with all the tapes of 80s music videos and first-run episodes of Dallas that couldn't be played.


This last move, though, was just for us. We were leaving the corporate life behind, so we took the time to sort through everything:  two families' worth of heirlooms, useless purchases stuck in the back of cabinets, outdated costume jewelry, and clothes that didn't fit (think thin side of the closet and no-so-thin side of the closet). Our banter sessions were hilarious—and uncomfortable. The living, breathing piles of stuff were an appendage. They had shaped who we were as individuals, and as a couple, over the years. 

When I opened the boxes of music in the attic—the scores of my early life—I was heartbroken. Some rodent had fouled them with droppings and chewed the brittle pages beyond recognition. A tiny mouse had already made this gargantuan decision for me. It was time to throw them out. Ordering my guilt to stand back, I set the boxes outside at the curb for the scavengers. 

No dice. Even the scavengers wouldn't touch them. 

Photo by Angelo Tsirekas

On recycle day, the rumble of the truck made my heart pound. I ran to the window to watch the magic of my college years grind away in the hungry teeth of the truck’s whirling cruncher. My stomach squeezed as the recycle man hurled the boxes into the air. When the last box missed its mark and hit the truck's rim, a cacophony of musical notes rained down onto the street like a dreadful symphony—Mozart mixing with Stravinsky; Bach melting into Brahms. 


Bolting outside in a desperate attempt to quiet the noise in my head, I scooped up the pages and handed them back to the recycle man. 

“Thanks, ma’am. I shoulda aimed higher!” he shouted over the noise of the truck.

I turned away, dejected, and loped back toward the house. Behind me, the truck grumbled on to its next victim. And that's when I spotted one soiled page calling out to me from the gutter. It was my voice I heard...with the accompaniment of soft strings. I picked up the opening page of “Laudate Dominum” from Mozart’s Solemn Vespers, my debut solo back in 1979. It was also the year that I met and married my soul mate of thirty-four years. We grew up together—grew young together. I brushed the dirt from that one special page, folded it into fourths, and stepped back into the house. 

I had aimed higher. 

As if magnetized, I floated up the stairs to the top drawer of my bureau and tucked that folded square of paper beneath my lingerie. It was just a piece of paper, and I would probably never pull it out again, but the events of that day added yet another memory to its significance. The music finally got the respect it deserved. And I was just fine.

About the Author

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-four years and bossy cat. Her debut novel, Stitches, was published in February, 2013. Stitches is the first book of a series that follows the trail of magic a Baby Boomer couple leave in their wake as they sleuth their way toward retirement—with a little immortal help.  

Stitches emerged from Courtney’s own magical history, which encompassed a twenty-five-year career as an executive in the Broadway entertainment industry. The second book in the series, Brushes, is due out in August, 2013. In addition to writing, her other passions are music, art, ancient history, and sewing incredible fabric.

Stitches is available in soft cover and on Kindle at, or at Barnes and Noble as a downloadable Nook book.

For more information about Stitches, visit Courtney’s blog site at


Marilyn said...

What a beautiful story. My heart ached with you as you lost all those beautiful treasures. But I also felt the courage to start over.
Thank you.

Caroline said...

I had to smile yet felt a tug of sadness too, Courtney. Life goes on and the only thing we can take with us through the years are the memories and few snatches of this and that, tattered and worn, that soothes our hearts. Good post.

Courtney Pierce said...

Thank you, Caroline. And the story is all too true. Our stuff is magic, even after we let go of it.

Pam Glover said...

When you just had the one moments, it was more intense than the whole box, don't you think?

Courtney Pierce said...

Oh, yes, especially when it only has special meaning to you. It's a life secret that you carry around that nobody else knows about.