the things we leave behind

the things we leave behind

My bed sold on Wednesday, the dresser left yesterday, and today my friend walked out with the tv and armfuls of kitchen supplies and foods that I won’t be able to use in the camper.

We talk about ideas of ‘things’ owning us, about how experiences are what matter, but until you are sitting in a small cottage after two years of being embedded looking at blank walls and empty floors, you really don’t understand what that means.

Moving is always a headache and emotionally trying. One thing I didn’t expect was how different it is leaving a solid residence to go onto the unknown road vs simply moving from one house to another. When I move into a new place, the packing and moving is annoying, but there is always the vision of the new place and excitement of finding new locations for the stuff. This time there is the annoyance of packing, but the vision is blurry because I can only see my truck and camper and dogs and that unknown road. There is nothing else to see.

I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I am embarking on this journey – to require myself not to have any future vision, but to ‘be here now’ as cliché as that is.

There are 12 boxes of my books at the VA library now. Books are my warm blanket, my grilled cheese and tomato soup… and I gave away close to half of my collection.

I loaded my friend’s trailer with boxes full and dropped it all off at a women’s center for donation. Months ago, I started selling off my motorcycles. I got down to two. Sold one last week, and the other went to a friend’s garage for storage.

My plan was to empty the storage room that I have rented, but I failed in that endeavor. Turns out, it’s much harder to ‘get rid of everything’ than it looks on paper. I’ve never believed in storing things away. Why pay to hold something you don’t use? It still seems ridiculous to me, and yet I haven’t figured out the solution to the complex relationship I have with these items. What to do with my dad’s papers and photographs? Keep them in storage. What to do with irreplaceable books and childhood treasures? Keep them in storage. What to do with family furniture given to me upon my grandparents deaths? Keep it all in storage.

I don’t know when I will get back for this stuff. A friend of mine wrote to me, “it’s like the bread crumbs in the forest.” And I suppose it rather is like that. Over the past many years, I have left breadcrumbs of various kinds all over the U.S., mostly as friends scattered all about. It’s time to go check on those breadcrumbs and not worry about the things left behind.

Zach Bowman wrote in his latest post, “”I can think of no better lesson in the texture of our world. In the width of it. In the joy it can bring when you least expect it. In the miracles that wait for you to come find them if you’re stern enough to leave empty things behind.”

I am trying to be stern enough to leave these empty things behind. I leave an empty place behind that happens to house some of my memories in a storage room on the east side of town.

3 thoughts on “the things we leave behind

  1. Lovely writing. I understand how this feels…I have left behind so many items that were emotionally valuable over the years…the things I could not lose were my old family photos, the quilt my grandmother made, my journals… It’s a strange feeling to start anew. Those breadcrumbs matter, as they are a part of our story.

  2. Moving has always been a chance at renewal. Someone who was very kind to me in a dark passage told me it’s better to pull a bandaid off quickly and getting rid of stuff is like that…it hurts but once its over, it’s behind you instead of in your way.

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