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packing up + looking back

April 23, 2012

Funny things happen when you get ready to move. You begin finding the most random items you’ve entirely forgotten you’ve ever owned or burrowed away as keepsakes; things that bring back memories from your life that you’ve also forgotten or burrowed away. I get so quickly lost in my own thoughts and memories as I begin to sort and pack, read and laugh, dig around and smooth and fold and tuck and shut and close.

Finding a pair of crutches makes me cringe as I remember tripping in heels at a best friend’s wedding in Virginia and falling on my face. I would have probably been okay if I wouldn’t have spent most of the night dancing like a maniac with my friend-date and the groom’s hilarious aunt; they had to find me crutches at the day-after brunch the next day because I couldn’t walk thanks to a puffy and sprained ankle. I sat on a chair with my foot up while flustered Southern ladies ran about, bringing me plates of biscuits and gravy and sweet tea.

Wedged in my closet is an old window frame made into a window box, given to me by two guys from a local rehabilitation ministry. I had talked to one of these men, offering space to share his stories; of lifelong drug use, of landing in prison, of finding hope in community and God again, and how this organization was helping give him his life back. I wanted to help tell his story by writing about it for my church and as a thank you, he gave me this window box, made out of scraps from the construction sites he works on. “It’s made out of trash that no one thought was worth anything, kind of like us. Thank you for telling people our story.”

Tucked into a pink folder, I found a pile of papers and ticket stubs, cards and pictures from my college boyfriend back in 2004. He was the first person I ever fell in love with and as I sifted through drawings he made me, blurred self-portraits with closed eyes, scribbled notes, and found the journal I kept the months we dated, it came flooding back to me after so many waning years how much I really did love him and how honestly devastated and heartbroken I was when he left me for someone else.

It’s been almost three years since the last time I moved and my life has changed so much in that time. The tired, seeking person who moved into my apartment is not  the same one who is leaving. So much has happened in those three years and as I begin to pack and look around at this place that has been my haven and my stronghold for so much, I find myself feeling rather emotional at the thought of leaving what has really been my first real home all on my own. There is something very strong in my gene pool when it comes to homes; we are people who live deeply in place. Even though it’s just a little rental, it has been a huge part of my story and I will be sad to leave it.

But I’ll wrap the dishes in newspaper, I’ll delight in my favorite vintage finds as I tuck them in boxes, and I’ll run my hand over the covers of my always-growing collection of books, silently telling them how lovely and good and beautiful they are. I’ll move on to a new home and I will learn to love it in its own ways. But I’ll never drive by the house with the blue paint on the bottom and green paint on the top, with the red front door and the big flowering bush in front, and not touch my hand to my chest and breathe out, Oh, it’s home there, isn’t it. There was my home.

[photo credit here]

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