I made it. The move is done. Well, the sorting, purging, packing my life into 15-odd boxes and 3 suitcases and plodding around an airport from 6 o’clock in the morning Pacific time til 7 o’clock in the evening East Coast time–that’s all done. Now I’m set unpacking those 15-odd boxes, which were meticulous and orderly for the first several trips to the post office, but become increasingly haphazard–I daresay schizo–as the moving day drew nearer and the contents of my apartment I had left to deal with became increasingly daunting.
And I’m not unpacking them into a new, empty space–a clean slate, if you will; no, I’m unpacking them in my old room in my parents’ house where I grew up. I carefully drew a box opener over the packaging tape sealing the first box and pulled out a beautiful mahogany frame encasing a photo of me and one of my best friends from college on the beach on Kauai at her wedding a couple years ago. I surveyed the room and placed it on the entertainment center next to some antique glass bowls that once belonged to my great-grandmother, a trophy from a writing competition in 7th grade, and a picture of me and my high school boyfriend at my senior prom. There it was–my heritage, my childhood, my first love, and my current best friend–a cluttered mess…or a beautiful mess?
This is my life. I suppose the beauty is in how you arrange it: in having a knack for keeping just enough of your past to be cozy without waxing too nostalgic; in having the good taste to keep that which is truly meaningful and to cast away the rest; and in having the sense of balance to blend the new with the old, the proud with the awkward, the joy with the heartache. This is my challenge.
In between boxes, I’ve been catching up with family and friends, and trying to set up some kind of job to keep me busy (and in spending money) for the next several months while I’m here. While part of me is so exhausted from the move and the transition that I’d like to take a week to just unpack and then do nothing but hike through the woods, drive backroads, and take long bubble baths with good books, I realize that what I really need is a return to a daily routine. Change is good–and being back around family and old friends and familiar places and faces after almost ten years away is a great place to start a new chapter–but routine is necessary if I’m to really grow and progress the way I want to this year.
On my last night in my old apartment, I gathered all the copies of my apartment key (plus the key to my landlords’ laundry room) so that I could return them when I checked out of the place. As I pulled the keys from my key ring, I realized that most of the other keys on my keyring were useless to me as well; the keys to my department and office, the keys to my car (which the insurance adjuster had just hauled off as a total loss), even the key to the bike lock for a bike I hadn’t ridden in three years and had just given away–these were all useless to me. Once I removed these, the only key left on the ring was my key to my parents’ house. It looked lonely and out of place on my old key ring, so I remembered a sweet little key ring I’d picked up at a gift shop about a year ago and had socked away to use as a gift. It said “Just Believe,” which seemed like a pretty good sentiment to keep my lonely little house key company. I slipped the key on the new key ring and had to fight back tears when I turned it over in my hand: