Given that the average person sheds about eight pounds of skin cells in a year, I am literally going to be leaving part of me behind when we leave our home for a new address today—despite my best efforts with a Swiffer.
In addition to sweating as we trundle boxes back and forth, I will most likely be a bit teary, too. Although I have done the relocation thing around twenty times since becoming an adult—including two international occasions—it is still literally a moving experience.
At the leaving end, there’s the stirring of memories as you go through all the boxes of “important stuff” you have accumulated but probably never looked at or needed. Keepsakes, photos, and other bits and pieces gathered along the way. I want to go through each box and savor the moments, pulling up a seat in the attic next to Sparky Griswald in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
As something of a sentimentalist, I have been encouraged by more pragmatic types to be a bit more ruthless. But, for me, memories are not like clothing. They can’t be tossed away just because they haven’t been taken off the rack in the last two years.
So I take my time going through the emotional inventory triggered by this old handmade Father’s Day card and that old board game. Some I enjoy and decide to keep a little longer, tucking the memory joggers away one more time. Others, I’m finally ready to appreciate one last time and then let them go. Like the skin shedding, it’s a gradual thing.
Hopefully, the end result is that while I let go of some baggage so that I am not weighed down by the past, I carry enough forward that is still meaningful so that I am still anchored by what has gone before.
The hint of melancholy in the leaving is buoyed by the anticipation of arriving. While where I used to live is a library of memories, where I am going to live is a portfolio of possibilities. What do I want to be laying away in the attic, as it were, in the years ahead?
In the moving van between our old address and our new one, it strikes me that memories aren’t just about the past; they can have a future element, too. They don’t just have to be the things that we experienced back then. They can be things we plan for and pursue in the days ahead. We can look forward to memories.