The marks we leave - rites of passage

Paul Morriss

The marks we leave - rites of passage

Our children fill our house with noise and mess. Yet we know that when they are gone we will wish it was a little bit less quiet. When the novelty of putting something down and knowing it will be there the next day wears off, we will miss them. Even while we have them things move on. The phase when we needed a gate at the bottom of the stairs has gone, but these marks remind us of a time when the stairs were a danger.

One time they were doing some painting in the garden and one of them came in with paint on their hand. They ran upstairs, and left their mark.

The marks we leave - childhood currency

Stickers are an increasingly devalued currency of childhood. They are given out on many occasions - with magazines, as a reward at school, by people standing on the street promoting their cause. Once we had one which looked like a sticking plaster. It was stuck on the tiled bathroom floor for ages until it was gradually mopped away.

In some places stickers have a higher chance of survival. We never look at this door as we go through, so the sticker there placed many years ago remains. At Christmas we close the door to rearrange the room, making room for the tree. One of the children will make a big sign telling people to use the other door to the room, and that little sticker is upstaged.

The marks we leave - ritual and order

There’s a ritual to putting on all the stuff I need to wear when I ride my motorbike. I do it twice daily, 48 weeks of the year. There's an order to it as well. The jacket goes on so that I can reach into the pocket to get the earplugs so they can go in my ears before I put on the balaclava. If I put the balaclava on first I’d have to pull it back to fit in the earplugs. These small efficiencies are important on something done so often.

Then at the shed door I take the key (always going out of the house with rucksack, keys and gloves, no more, no less), unlock the padlock, hook it back into the catch and let go. It bangs on the doorframe and the curved mark in the frame gets slightly bigger.

The marks we leave - ritual and dust

There’s a ritual in the morning too - the making of the tea. The kettle is boiled, the teapot is warmed. The teabags live in a pot and so each day this pot lid is briefly picked up and put down. It’s dusted with tea apart from where the fingers rub the lid. Some time ago, who knows when, a rubber band was put around the knob, and there it stays, for the lifetime of the pot, because, why would we bother to take it off?

The lid sits on a wooden chair. Who knows how the chair got so many marks on it? It must have been used for so many things apart from sitting on.