Saturday, March 30, 2013

travel light

Even as a person with comparatively not much stuff, I have a lot of stuff. Books, mostly. Kitchen things. But now that 3/4 of it is in boxes, I can't even think of what is in there. I have visions, beginning yesterday, of just lifting off with next to nothing. What would fit in my small car: matt's ashes. His hat, his journal, a few of his shirts, small evidences. Photographs of us. My violin - though I never play it, he played it Then, and I like to have it around. If I could replace everything, I would take just two pairs of shoes, a backpack of clothes, the tea press, and the kettle. I would take my journals of this After, and a few pieces of art. And then, I would leave. Lift off.

But what about but what about -

So I revise. What if I lift off with my small car and these things here above, plus a moving van. Not a truck, just a regular sized van. Take one or two pieces of small furniture that would be expensive - literally, emotionally - to replace. Leave the rest. Leave the rest. The books we've read and want to read. Most of the kitchen, with plates and bowls and cups. Leave the recliner I remember searching for, how psyched you were to find it. The bookshelves you built, even. The evidence of life we lived, I lived. Leave the kitchen table and the chairs, things I brought into our life together, things with their own history for me. Leave even things I like, because there is a freedom in it.

It wouldn't be as bad as it sounds. It could be like training wheels - I can store all that furniture at my folks'. No big deal. I will be a country away from it, but able to go back and truck it over if it feels connected to me. Anti-climactic in a way, then. Okay. So, writing it out, this seems like the logical idea. Pare down. Travel light. See how it goes.

So bizarre, all this. To be considering my new life, what comes, what goes, what waits. Weighing things out, over and over - what is the cost of this versus this, my heart and my wallet and my mind. What holds me back and what is freeing me. Tumultuous times with eyes on the prize. Weird. Weird life.


Monday, March 25, 2013

the body knows

cruising through this packing
discard, discard, recycle.
Your handwriting.
The keys to the jobs you had going
at that time
I know it's happening
but I can't look directly at it
all these things
I don't need to carry with me
detritus of our life

but the large dresser, the one with the art supplies
is the one that houses
all the files I took out of the metal cabinet
before I gifted that away

I keep ridiculous things,
just to prove you were alive
to prove
in case anyone wonders
in case I ever do
that you lived
invoices and detailed accounts
blueprints written in your hand.

But it's the dog file
the paperwork we have
from the day we adopted him
the receipt
the chart
the way we interpreted it,
the slant of the first owner's hand
showing emotion -
you thought, by the tremor on the page,
that he had not wanted to give him up.

and suddenly I am sobbing
holding back vomit again

I have done too much.
Earlier this morning
I emptied your suitcase
the one I unpacked and repacked
just days After.
It wasn't as bad as I thought

but it is accumulative
and brutal
I remember, not meaning to,
my mother and I lying on the inflatable bed in the guest room
laughing and sobbing over some strange Matt quirk.
Our life
and all those days After
the weight of everything I leave behind
when I leave this house

I am probably melodramatic at this point,
and my body is done for this day
even if my mind would charge on.

Man. Moving is intense.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Cheryl Strayed wrote a review of the book "Wave" by Sonali Deraniyagala. The power of Cheryl Strayed to influence decision making... after quite literally years now of avoiding all sorts of water imagery, it's pretty strange that I found myself wanting to read this book. Not only is she (Sonali, not Cheryl) a water widow, but her children and her parents were also killed. Yes. I am maybe crazy, and I probably won't actually read it. But I read the review, sat here perched on the couch crying, and also kind of laughing in that maniacal way, thinking - I can never escape water. That I did, then, that day, that I got out, is immaterial. Somehow, today, it seems - not exactly a blessing, but a relief that water will always be with me, grief, Matt, that day, the days Before, the days since.

It's a measure of growth maybe, or maybe just a simple measure of change. But what's also weird or interesting to me, and the reason I won't likely read the actual book, is that I could deal with her images of her family dying. (that's probably b.s., but this was my thought train...) But I do not want to read about her experience in that water. I do not want to see me. I do not want to see myself, to be brought back to myself in the water. Even now, I want to run away from that. I forget, sometimes, if that is odd, that I was in there too - like the lens is never, ever turned on me, not in that same way. There are things I cannot withstand yet, and might not ever. So while in a theoretical moment, I felt drawn to read the story of her entire family drowning, and what the world has been since then, there is no way I can withstand her words like mine, to hear myself back there again. It's not fear. I was not ever afraid, not like that. It is love for me. It is sheer love for me, that I do not want to turn and see the full force of my own pain, not that day, not there in that place. The places I can go do not include a view of myself there.

This is the second time within a few days that I have had a sudden view swing into place, seeing myself as someone who loves me might see. I am so accustomed to my normal grief, it's like there is a haze of normalcy around it. This view is different, more raw; new and intense: to feel the weight of what is broken, to feel so much pain, love, compassion, grief for who I see, even though who I see is me.  Schizophrenic love perhaps, to be both the one in pain and the one outside of it, looking in.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

paper trails

I'm not sure if I should be concerned. About myself. I am taking a break right now, having just cleaned out the big closet (the only closet, really) in this house - the one full of books and photographs, documents I haven't looked at in years, boxes that made the last move with me and probably the one before, without my opening them. It's not those I care about. I mean, I opened. I sorted. I discarded a whole lot. That's nice.

It's the paper trail, and my non-reaction. My sort-of reaction. My ~ acknowledge and keep going ~ reaction. To the paper trails. I didn't even know I still had the entire folder of receipts from our trip cross-country years ago. Each receipt initialed MD or MP, depending on who paid. I nod in acknowledgment, curt in my response. I keep them, but do not look through.

Later, going through evidence of my younger self, a much earlier life - well before Us. I see the photographs of then. I remember, but feel nothing - it's all so far away, a different life, a different time. I remember these times of my life, but feel nothing for the people involved. Our lives have gone different ways; it is all eons ago. That's a pretty normal response for me; it is the way I am. I leave things when they're done.

And what - bothers - me is this: that our life becomes that. A different life, a different time. People in a photograph. That our life is in a box (even as literally, your ashes are in a box, on another shelf, for another day). That our life, the evidence of our life, comes with a film over it. A curt nod, a small breath, I move on. Sort, discard, collect.

I don't seem to feel much these days. I feel disconnected. A weird, unexpected break in my writing work also keeps me from being in this. Maybe it's a gift, a weird gift. To plow through with no feeling, a dark blank place, like a scar, disconnected and distant. Holding my breath perhaps. No idea. On one hand, it feels good to just plow through, no sentiment for older things. I'm pretty good at that. Maybe it's just determined focus. Meh. Who knows. There is sh*t to be done and there is nothing to do but do it. My sharp edge bothers me, but it is also cutting through. So there is that.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

box mania.

Box mania!

I started packing yesterday. It's funny - I do all this, do everything really, with an eyebrow raised at the sky, wary and untrusting. I believe nothing until it actually, tangibly happens. The most solid and seemingly blessed of events, choirs of angels singing and signs aligning - they mean nothing. The Universe does as she chooses, and gives no reliable hints as to what Her aim might be. I take action, hoping Her will works well for me. This time. That I do actually get to go where I'm heading, that things unfold as I hope. As I need. But I trust nothing.

It's not negative - I'm not pouting. I'm not refusing to act. I just raise an eyebrow. At the sky. And keep on packing.

But first, I began to unpack. There are boxes of things from the other house, boxes from our life. Boxes of dishes and silverware, little elements. Things that a friend boxed up for me in the weeks After. In fact, I can tell the exact dates: dishes wrapped in newspapers marked August 1, 2009. Scenes of life, from then. I am curiously un-emotional. Focused. Detached, maybe. Keeping these things will not keep him close. If I didn't know this stuff was in there, I wouldn't know it was gone. For the most part.

Wheels are turning. Clocks are ticking. Long-distance tentacles reaching out. The bottom seems to have fallen out of a sure-thing project - more frequent skeptical and questioning glances in the general direction of the Universe. Things are in motion. More will be revealed. Eyes on the prize, as they say. The packing continues.


Sunday, March 3, 2013



I just gave notice to my landlords. After 8 years of living here, I will be packing up and clearing out. 8 weeks from now, this place will be empty and cleaned, and I will close the door on the place we lived. Your ashes are scattered in the garden. The chicken coop you built has been empty now for a couple of years. Things are changing. Things have been changing.

I have lived in this house longer than I have lived anywhere this whole life. Crazy. I left this house on a bright sunny day in July of 2009 and came home several hours later as a completely different person, with a completely different life. This house held our life, and it held that new life too. The walls and the floors have absorbed screaming and crying and vomiting. I have dragged myself across these floors, hauled myself up, leaned on the counters. I have stood in the shower, sobbing, remembering you there. I have laid in this living room, retching and convulsing. I have screamed where no one could hear me. We lived here. And it is time to go.

As great as it is - no. As hard as this is, as insane and stunning and painful - as hard as it is, the new life is calling. It won't let me do it gradually now. Heck, I've had a LOT of "gradual." Just that now, it's real. Now, packing begins. Not just for hoping I'll get out of here sometime soon, but because it is now.

Deeeeeeeeep breath.