I Have Dust

Written By: Budd Smith

My name is Bernadette, I live ion the East End of Long Island and I Have Dust.

The fine, dry pulverized particles of matter and earth cling to my possessions, my furniture, my glasses, picture frames, lamps…they are with me always. It is My Dust Collection.

I started to Have Dust at a young age and, as I grew older, so did the Dust. I still have objects from childhood with the original Dust on them. My dolls, my tea-set, my rock collection, my 45rpm records, my yearbooks, were covered with various layers of dust over the years.

By the time I was a teenager, I realized my mother did not want me Collecting Dust. She wanted me to “get rid of” my Dust.

But it was too late. I already Had Dust.

The amazing thing about Having Dust was that, even if my mother came into

my room with a feather-duster, mop or broom, and made the Dust disappear, within a short

period of time, it returned!

As the time passed, I tried to hide my Dust Collecting. I had it, secretly, under my bed; on the dresser; on the window sill, behind the door; under the pencils on the desk, even in the bathroom. There was Dust everywhere! I became resigned to the fact that the Dust goes with me, no matter where I am.

When I married, my husband noticed my Dust Collection, even though HIS mother never had one. He, tentatively, suggested that I might want to get “rid” of my Dust, but then quickly realized criticism of The Collection produced inertia in me and caused The Collection to, exponentially, grow larger.

Many East End women do not have the patience, or the skill, to be a Dust Collector. I do.

As for, men, no matter where they live, they are naturals at creating, collecting and preserving Dust. In no time, my husband, left Dust wherever he was.

Over the years, I added kids, dogs, cats, grandkids, and even changed husbands, to make sure I never ran out of Dust. If some of the Dust accidentally was brushed away, someone, or something, in the house was sure to create more dust to add to The Collection.

Living on the East End of Long Island produced a unique mixture of Dust and sand granules. When visitors came to the house, they were given a word of caution for if, and when, they happen to view my Dust Collection. They were told: do not put your fingers on The Dust Collection and, please, take every precaution not to sneeze.

Even though Collecting Dust is an acquired art, not all Dust Collectors are equal. Some collectors deny the presence of dust, and deny being a Dust Collector. They may even feign surprise, or distress, that The Dust has been discovered.

It takes guts to stand up and say: “I am a Dust Collector.” I know this because, for a long time, I was ashamed to acknowledge my life-long Dust Collection. Now I own it: Yes, I tell people, My name is Bernadette and I Have Dust.

As we, on the East End know, Collections are revered. Collections preserve the past in what is the present. And Dust Collections, while not objects themselves, cover many objects of the Past. Dust Collections are permanent residents of local historical societies; their presence authenticates the longevity of an object. Dust is not for the shiny and the new. Dust is for vintage; like East End wines, it has to be cultivated and aged, which may be why I relate to, and preserve, my Dust Collection. It has been places, settled down and grown at home and has a history. Just like me.