I have lost myself again.
I am 10 pages deep into a journal from the 11th grade. I snap out of my self-induced memory trip, thank the cosmos for letting me survive high school, and stuff the journal tightly into the box. It fits perfectly next to the picture of my sister and I in a photo booth sticking our tongues out and crossing our eyes. I wonder where those girls have gone but I know they’ll never be back.
This always happens to me when I have to pack the good stuff–the books, the journals, the pictures. I fall into my memories.
Our move-in date has been bumped up, so we only have three more weekends. John Bear’s apartment will be easy, he doesn’t have much, but my place is another story. This office is just the beginning and then there’s the basement.
I’m on the office closet floor now between two boxes; one for saving and one for tossing.
After having Benjamin things I once had a hard time parting with are now easy victims for the toss box. Notes from old friends or the night gown I used to wear as a 6-year-old. I don’t yearn for my own childhood anymore now that Benjamin’s is unfolding before my eyes. And then there’s the promise of new memories on the way, memories filled with John and the family we have our hearts set on creating.
This entire time I’ve been keeping my excitement buried, just below the surface. I’m afraid this is a mirage and that my exuberance, if left unharnessed, could shatter the dream.
Old fears are hard to break.
With my ex-husband I learned how to hide nearly every emotion. Constantly worried about how he would react to anything I would say or do I shut my mouth and put on a happy wife face. Turns out that Happy Wife Face was very hard to maintain during a move from a one-bedroom place to a three-bedroom apartment and even harder when our newborn had arrived.
You all know how that turned out.
When I hear John walk into the room I instinctively drop my head, scared to make eye contact. The boxes, the man and the old memories are giving me a bit of moving deja vu.
Above my head in the closet is an entire rack of winter clothes. It’s just one of three bursting closets in my apartment and I’m worried that John, who has not yet seen said closet, will freak out when he does. But he never freaks out. I’m just irrationally lost in my deja vu, in my baggage.
I look up at him sheepishly.
“These are all of my Winter clothes,” I say and then quickly, “I’ll be getting rid of most of them.”
“Why? They look cool. You should keep them. We can use that wardrobe thing you bought for the basement.”
“Are you sure?” Suddenly I’m snapped back into the reality of today, of the now. With a John Bear instead of whatever I had before.
“Yeah, I’m sure. It’s your stuff, bring it along.”
Then he heads to Benjamin’s room to scoop him up in a good-bye hug.
And there I was, alone on a closet floor in complete amazement that I was in a relationship but still completely free.