What I leave behind


I’m the kind of person who likes to feel like I belong. When I move into a new house, or even when I get to a hotel room, I unpack immediately. I will not sleep until every picture is hung, every crystal placed, candles burning, fridge stocked, closets organized, and shower curtain most definitely hung.

I suppose you might call this OCD or at a minimum, anal retentive.

I don’t like clutter or things out of place. This has been quite a journey with kids…Balancing my need for order in a world that defies it.

Right now, I am in limbo. My house is a sea of packed boxes, some tightly taped, labeled and ready to go, others, well, there are others in varying degrees of ready to go. As I scan my home, I find more and more things to be dealt with, sorted, packed, let go of.

After so many years of collecting things to remind me I belong, it’s not surprising I have an enormous amount of things.

This picture will ease my anxiety, this Buddha will remind me to smile, this candle will imbue a sense of peace and calm, this crystal will heal my pain.

My walls are almost empty now, except for the hooks and holes that once held my past, my dreams, my vision for what it means to belong.

Each corner of my home was once neatly arranged in a way that reminded me that this was my space. My little corner of the world.

I don’t really have a corner anymore. I let it go. I will soon have a small storage space and a PO box to collect the dust of my once sedentary existence.

I haven’t quite figured out how to fully disappear. There is always something that must be mailed, within the next 30 days to remind you that you once existed in another time and space.

The heart shaped spot where a sweet reminder of a love filled weekend once hung, is all that will be left of me in this house.

And then I will be no where and everywhere.

It is in this limbo, that for me, the doubt creeps in. As each day ticks closer to the day in which this existence is relegated to a PO Box of the past.  A 10x10 box of the things I decided to keep, from this story I once lived.

I wonder if I will ever come back to these things, furniture I love and can never replace, alter pieces that I cannot carry with me, and yet still hold meaning. Will they when I return? Will “I” return?

Most of my storage space will be filled with the belongings of my kids, who have not yet experienced enough life to realize that blanket, that Lego dragon they spent hours building probably won’t mean much later on. Who knows, maybe it will. What have you kept from your childhood?

Yesterday, as I was packing my car for yet another trip to the goodwill, my 70-year-old neighbor, who has lived in her house for 40 years asked me; “how do you choose what to keep and what to let go of?” She relented on the high cost of keeping her home, a 5-bedroom house, filled with her life and yet only inhabited by a single woman in her 70’s. She asked me: “What will my children want?” Her sons’ wives, busying their schedules, with homes filled with things of their own. “I have so many things that I love, will they love them too or throw them to the curb the minute I am dead?” This woman owns a home outright that, if she sold it, it would generate over $1 million in cash, to do with whatever she desires. She keeps it intact, in the hopes that someone will want her things when she is gone, love her things as she does, that she won’t be forgotten.

Our things, the things that keep us grounded, the things that remind us where we are and that we are home, the things that tell us, you are safe in this space, it is yours, are so comforting.

I have loved that comfort. I have loved knowing how to find the light switch in the dark, the bathroom at night without having to turn on a light. I love knowing that at any moment, I can open the top drawer of my nightstand and find my Chapstick, lotion and my favorite tarot deck, just in case I need a quick reminder I am where I should be.

And I am ready to fumble in the dark, without my things. Right now, I am in limbo. In-between here and there. Empty walls and dressers, I know the terrain and yet nothing is where it used to be. It’s either made its way to someone new, or it’s in a box, waiting until it’s needed again.

My practice is to be present in this in-between, this limbo of nowhere and here. It has brought up all of my fears and doubts about success, love, what is the meaning of life, what should I be doing, am I doing it right?

This is what happens when we create a home, we settle in. We feel safe, even when there is chaos outside, we can retreat to our corner, touch our things and find peace.

I need to know what it feels like to experience that feeling of belonging within me, not within a space. I want to be able to carry it everywhere I go, in every moment.

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