Friday, February 22, 2008
a life in boxes
When I left Italy last summer, I literally packed up and left. We were each allowed two suitcases, and we sent 1 cubic meter of air freight. My life of 15 years had to shrink down into this limited amount of space. The rest,whatever that was, I put into boxes. I taped and labeled these boxes and packed them away, sure that I would be back in a year's time to open them and deal with whatever it was that I couldn't bear to throw away and couldn't fit into my new shrunken life.
Now I find that I can't remember what are in these boxes. I can't even remember where many of them are. Was I so distracted then as I packed? Was I so ready to leave? Was I so flippant? I walk around in my life here and wonder how on earth I will ever fit the past into the present. I wonder how I will ever reconcile Jenny here in this place.
I've done this all my life. I've always packed up and left. I've always started over. I like to think of this as one of my strong points. I don't hang on to things. I don't drag around a lot of baggage. But now as I am getting older, I wonder if I've been fooling myself all this time. I wonder if I should have brought more with me over the years. I wonder about long lost friends and the smells of my favorite homes that sometimes make their way into my dreams. I remember the feeling of sitting on my front porch at my little house in Albuquerque and smelling the crisp air in the spring. I remember the evenings around the fire in Italy and the smell of chestnuts roasting.
As fate would have it I will not be returning to Italy this summer. My husband and children are going, but I will stay here, and I wonder what that will feel like. Here I can say (since no one is listening) that I'm happy not to go back. I'm happy not to take that hellish flight and have to deal with the thousands of trappings of a life packed away. I'm happy not to see all the people we left right now. I'm happy not to be around my husband's family as they grope. I'm happy to not be leaving Colorado at the peak of wild flower season.But then I think about those boxes. They'll be sitting there waiting for my return. They'll be right there where I left them, wherever that is, waiting to be opened.
And I won't be there.