GORDIAN KNOTS: Dani Tru’s The Hope Chest (True Romantic #5)

Danielle TrussoniSome knots help–keeping your shoes on, tethering the dingy to the dock. Some are downright delicious, like garlic knots. Then there are the majorly irksome, like hair knots or infernal earpod wires. This June, we’re looking at Gordian knots–and the ingenious work-arounds that free us from those seemingly impossible snarls.

This week in particular, we’re focusing on one of the most impossible and perplexing snarls of all–love. Danielle Trussoni, writing as her alter ego, Dani Tru, shares some excerpts from True Romantic, a weekly column featured in The Rumpus. For the full True Romantic story, visit Dani Tru’s column here.


My mother owned a long narrow cedar trunk that looked to me, when I was a little girl, like a coffin. It was at the end of her bed and my mother would pile quilts on the coffin, covering its surface. Ichinaf the quilts were spread over a bed, I would see that the wood was carved with flowered panels. Among these flowers sat a small copper lock, cool as a wasp, securing my mother’s box from the destructive forces of curious children like me.

Eventually, I found a way to break into the trunk, but when I saw the contents, I couldn’t understand why my mother had locked it to begin with. It was filled with the most mundane things imaginable: A stack of white embroidered napkins, china cups and plates with silver at the edges, a cut crystal candy bowl, an album that contained mementos of me, my sister, and my brother: locks of hair, scraps of baby blankets, inked baby footprints. The air was musty inside the trunk, as if I’d entered the closed darkness of a cellar. I’d expected to find bars of gold bullion, jeweled cups, or at least a birthday present hidden among the tissue paper. Disappointed, I closed the lid and left it alone.

The next time I paid attention to my mother’s wooden trunk was an evening in December, many years later, when I was home from college. It was dark outside, and snow had covered over the driveway. My mother and I were wrapping Christmas presents together in her bedroom and she opened the wooden trunk, looking for some special ribbon she’d tucked away. I recognized the smell of cedar and dust, the scents I hadn’t known how to name as a child. Now, I could identify the climbing flowers—they were lilies—and I understood that the trunk didn’t resemble a coffin at all. Looking inside as an adult, I saw the contents of the trunk had changed—instead of linens and china cups, there were stacks of report cards, my brother’s high school letter jacket, a trophy my sister had won playing basketball, a watercolor I’d painted in eleventh grade, every one of our school portraits from kindergarten through graduation preserved in slips of plastic. Every moment of glory her kids had experienced she’d kept in the trunk.

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~~~Danielle Trussoni is the author of four books: Falling Through the Earth (2006), Angelology (2010), Angelopolis (2013) and the forthcoming memoir The Fortress (2016). In addition to being published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Tin House, her writings have been widely anthologized.

Falling Through the Earth, a memoir about her relationship with her father, was chosen by The New York Times as one of the Ten Best Books of 2006. Falling Through the Earth was recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award, Elle Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for April 2006 and was chosen as a Book Sense Pick for March 2006. Her novels Angelology and Angelopolis were New York Times Bestsellers and have been translated into thirty-two languages. You can learn more about Danielle at www.danielletrussoni.com and follow her on Twitter @DaniTrussoni



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