Saturday, February 13, 2016

The things it's easy to let go

Packing up my house isn't quite as emotional as I anticipated. One month and a handful of days after losing my job, I have reached a crossroad: I must either leave my fantastic rental in Bay Village for some place less expensive, or leave town altogether.

This is certainly not the first time I've packed up to move.

I've hauled everything I own across the country, set up house in three states and six cities so far. Every time, the load shifts, and I shed a little more of my past.

Today while sorting through a drawer of old T-shirts I was overcome by the memory of my first move, the most powerful move I've ever made.

My mother's house

May 1999

I returned to my mother's house after graduating from college. It was a situation of convenience for both of us: I was 21 and made no money (figuratively), she was 51 and made no money (literally). Immediately after unloading the last boxes, we made our arrangements. Did I enjoy that cable television? Why yes, I did. That's one bill. Groceries in the kitchen? I had to pony up.

It wasn't pleasant, but we made it work. Slowly over time, old demons crept into our lives. She fell deep down the rabbit hole of illness and addiction, and I was not able to make ends meet financially or emotionally for the both of us.

But the only thing harder than staying was leaving.

April 2002

I was sneaky and skillful. For weeks I had been slowly packing a getaway bag hidden in the back of my closet. A T-shirt here, a pair of socks there. I had endured enough. No more lying, no more manipulation, no more stealing, no more supporting a woman who made no effort to support herself in any meaningful way.

An argument over money sealed the deal and presented the opening I needed. We fought and went to our separate corners, hers being out of the house.

Alone, I grabbed my bag, stuffed it with whatever I thought I couldn't live without, took what little cash I had managed to hide in a photo album, and left. I walked away from my mother's house for the last time. I ran from all the things I had known, from the creaky stairs, the sound of the air conditioner kicking on, my childhood toys boxed in the attic, right down the the comforting smell of my own sheets. All of it behind me.

I was moving on.

Parting with the material things was not as hard as I thought it would be. It was even cathartic. While planning my escape, I had already made peace with the fact that I might never see any of those things again. I had already put them in the past.

February 2016

As I put old clothes in a bag bound for Goodwill, the memories of those painful years flood my mind. But I'm stronger than that. I remind myself that what's behind me, good and bad, has served its purpose in my life. It has shaped me, made me who I am, and I have learned all I can from it.

I look forward to moving forward.

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