Two things in life force you to unnecessarily reflect: moving and birthdays. I have both of those occurring within the next month. Suffice it to say I am already worn out by my own unnecessary reflection.
This past weekend, I could no longer avoid the inevitable so I figured I should begin cramming all of my world possessions into boxes. I started with my books, a decision I soon regretted as I later worked on research for an upcoming series I’m writing. I thought of at least three or four books that would come in handy. I jumped up to grab them until I realized they were buried deep in some box labeled, “Books (heavy).” I then moved on to my kitchen–a room whose contents are scarce and inconsequential. No loss there.
But, in between packing my treasures and a few pots and pans, I came across traces of my life that had fallen into corners and been tossed inside my ottoman. (It also sounds way too fancy to call the piece of furniture I’m referencing an ottoman because it’s hot pink and was found in the college section of Target). Next to one of my bookshelves, I found an old wallet–I’m talking high-school, maybe-early-college wallet. I wondered how the hell this thing had survived all of my college moves plus three post-grad moves (four if you count that time I lived in a roach-infested apartment for 48 hours before leaving). I opened it up and found my old library card.
Nostalgia took over and I spent part of the afternoon looking up the requirements for getting a card at the local library in my neighborhood. I then quit and took a nap. After all, Amazon and I have a beautiful marriage; I can’t really cheat on him. But, for that quick moment, I missed going to the library. I remembered how significant trips to the library were when my sister and I were little. We stood in the children’s section enthralled by all of the colorful covers and the ounce of responsibility we received to check out our books. I remembered not-so-innocent trips to the library in high school to make out with my then-boyfriend in the non-fiction section and pretty much every setting imaginable. I remembered falling in love with Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Prep” after stumbling upon it unintentionally in the fiction section. I remembered this long history of always being surrounded by books, a history evidenced by the five boxes I packed housing my current collection.
Later during my personal packing party, I started trashing a bunch of papers stashed inside my “ottoman” when I found a few typed pages. I first thought they were a post or poem I found reason to print out until I read a line that said, “I know you deserve more.” I realized the sheets were an email I received from a former love interest. I skimmed through the pages and noticed my own handwriting on them, annotations of what I wanted to say in response during the phone conversation to address the lengthy email. I laugh, chucked up a peace sign to my pathetic 2013 self and threw the pages away.
I thought packing would be a royal pain in the ass. And, well, it is. But, it’s also a sort of catharsis to see all of these little bits of your life and deliberate which ones you want to keep. While my hoarding tendencies don’t rival those of the people who make it on TV with cats living under stacks of newspapers, I do hold on to more than I toss. I always think that maybe something will have meaning months or years down the road. And, those things usually do. But, now I’m seeing they can still host meaning without having to be physically present in your life. Maybe it’s the same for people. Or, maybe I’m just unnecessarily reflecting.