Over the years I’ve become a seasoned expert in the art of transient living. Or as the uninitiated might phrase it: moving.
I am gradually making my way from room to room sorting through belongings. Inventory time. What will stay with me and what will go? This pile for packing. That pile for charity. A pile here for selling. A pile there for recycling.
Rule #1 for a frequent mover is to maintain a firm non-pack-rat-itis policy. Collecting too much stuff or becoming overly attached to material things is danger zone territory. Avoiding this trap makes it that much easier to part company with the goods when the time comes. Even then, a certain level of ruthlessness is required when sorting through everything that originally passed the keeper litmus test. After pile decisions are made, the lovely lightness of being that generally accompanies the liberation from unnecessary crap makes it all worthwhile.
This move is decidedly different. This time, I’m struggling. Deciding what goes has been painstaking. I’m resistant to sealing up boxes in case I change my mind. I feel unsteady and unsure. Certainly not my usual characteristically focused self when it comes to changing residences and today I was reminded in a forceful way of why that is.
The person I expected to share my life with snuck up on me. As I opened an envelope in a shoebox, I came face to face with forgotten photographs taken during the first year we were married. Smiling, happy, shiny faces – his and mine. Arms wrapped around each other, heads magnetically leaning in, expressions reflecting a moment that could not possibly be any better than it already was. Photos of us together, with family, alone and smiling into the camera for one another.
I sat down on the floor with those images held close to my heart and cried for a very long time. Who were those glowingly contented looking people? Was that joy genuine and consistent, or simply a snapshot capturing a fleeting moment in time? What did they really mean to each other? I don’t know the answers and must accept that it is unlikely I ever will.
Yes, this move is different. I am not merely swapping one address for another. I am leaving behind all the hopes and dreams that were kept alive in this home for those two shiny, happy people who existed in those photographs but not real time. A future dreamed, never to be realized.
This move means so much more than adopting a new postal code. It marks my stepping forward into a brand new life. Different dreams and uncharted terrain await.
In the leaving, I am taking a gigantic leap of faith into the unknown. Letting go of old stuff. Letting go of all the parts of myself that no longer fit. Letting go of the dreams that died within these walls. Letting go.
It is time to take new photographs.