A few weekends ago, I rented a UHaul Van. I drove 90 miles with my 7-year old son down to his father’s house to get my boxes. Instead of telling people that I come with my own baggage, I’m going to start saying that I come with The Boxes. Over the course of my adult life, I have moved a lot of boxes of stuff. Some of The Boxes have gone everywhere with me, some get left and some new ones get added each time.
The boxes are filled with bits of my life that I can’t part with yet. Every time I move The Boxes I want to divorce myself. It’s usually a huge pain. It usually costs money, is physically exhausting, and I end up fighting with whoever it is that is with me. My son helped me this time. At one point, he said, “Can’t we just return this van, go home, and get on with our lives!” Little does he know that he will be moving his mother’s Boxes for the rest of his life.
When I move The Boxes it’s also emotionally exhausting. There are always moments when I think “What the hell have I done with my life? Where am I going?” But I also have to admit that every time I sit in the seat of the moving truck or van I get excited. I like new beginnings. Unfortunately new beginnings mean you also have endings and those are not nearly as pleasant.
The Boxes have followed me and landed in the following places: my childhood home in Austin to a living room in Abilene to a spare bedroom in a Dallas apartment to an attic in a Dallas house to another attic in a Memphis condo to a basement in St. Louis and back to an apartment in Memphis to a friend’s spare bedroom in Memphis, to an apartment closet in San Antonio to a storage unit in San Antonio to a storage unit in the bowels of Newark, NJ to an attic in Toms River, NJ to my current living room in New York City.
If you’ve read this far, you are probably wondering what the hell is in The Boxes. One very heavy box has all the notes for my doctoral dissertation. Every post-it note, every diagram and rejected idea…it’s all there. I wanted to get rid of it, but a friend once said, “Your children will love to find that one day.” Another box has my dad’s Stetson and a few other keepsakes from his office. Another has one of my baby dresses and booties and childhood keepsakes. There are lots of photos and cards and letters. There is my mom’s crystal. There are small wooden boxes that I collected as a child into adulthood.
It’s the stuff that absolutely no one cares about, but you. It’s the stuff that you are willing to move and store no matter what. It’s the stuff that you could live without, but cannot throw away. It’s the stuff that will reveal to your friends and family many sides of you they never knew and some that they did.
And while I may leave religions, cities, careers, and husbands….I will always have The Boxes.
EPILOGUE: I just rented a storage unit in Bloomfield, NJ…..