Out with the Old


I’m not officially leaving for a few months, but I’m moving out of my current residence at the end of the July and couchsurfing for a few months before I go. This means that I have to purge my current life, the materials I’ve kept with me for a long while and some that I’ve acquired more recently. What I’ve realized is that Boyz II Men song, It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday, definitely applies to the situation at hand.

Getting rid of almost all of what my life contains is partially freeing and also slightly traumatic. I have memories in my “things.” Of course, the key to purging is remembering that all of these are exactly that, “things” and “stuff.” I can have memories without having the stuff to go with them.

I have given myself permission to keep one box of books of the 13 that I have (as of last time I moved). That means going through every book on my enormous bright red Ikea bookcase, touching the covers and remembering where I got each book, when I read it, what it meant. The ones that made the cut were the ones with the most memories attached.

Siddhartha – I’ve read this one at least 15 times in my life and now would be another one of those times to do this. Siddhartha takes a journey of self-discovery and leaves his life behind, which is a lot like what I’m going to do right now.

All of my Toni Morrison novels – these grew me up into a writer.  The Bluest Eye was the first novel by a black writer I ever had the privilege of reading and I believed I could be just like her when I grew up. Though I have days of doubt as a writer, I still believe I’ll write that one novel that changes some other little girls life one day and makes her want to be a writer too.

Shel Silverstein – When I was 14 I was admitted into a summer program at UC Berkeley for burgeoning poets. Admittedly I didn’t know much about poetry, but I knew Shel Silverstein had a poem called Twistable Turnable Man that had changed my life at the age of 7 most likely because it’s like rhyming on crack. It was like candy for my mouth just in words and made me high repeating it for days. He’s going with me to the end.

One Hundred Years of Solitude , Bel Canto, Middlesex – Just read them and you will understand why we can’t part. If I could write like any of these authors…

I have to part from a lot of other “things” too, but most of them don’t hurt as much as anything that came from my mom.

When my mom first died and I had to decide what to take and what to leave behind it was heartbreaking because I thought I could feel my mom in each object. I smothered myself in her smoky clothing covered in Downey scent for days just to inhale little reminders of her. I put her scent in boxes and jars and would open them on days I needed to smell reminders of her and bring her back to life.

I took as many pieces of her as I could because they were hers and I thought if they became mine that we would forever be connected.

She’s been gone for four years now and I realize now that most of the little pieces I took of her things aren’t at all what really connect me to her. There are some things I will keep forever like her favorite popcorn earrings that I thought were so tacky every time she wore them to the movies. I will take her scarves, because I still laugh at remember how she would cover her oil soaked curls with them and still have stains on her pillows on the morning. I will take a few of her broaches that she wore everyday on her suits to work.

I won’t take most of the Christmas stuff she left behind and I won’t take all the pots and pans. I won’t take the nail polish I’ve been holding onto and have never used. I won’t take the sewing machine I’ve never fixed and have never used. I can’t take everything, I just have to take the important things and I know she would still love me even though I’m not going to take it all.

I will always take her voice with me, the last birthday message she ever left for me before she passed. I have that and it brings her to me like a train smacks a car in its tracks.

Things will be left behind, but new things will come. Adventure, love, creativity, growth.  I have a lot of ideas for what I can get done on the road and they might not all happen, but I’m excited to try.

For now I’m resolved to try to be okay with that split feeling; the urge to hold onto more pieces than I can take, but knowing I need to let go. I did tear up for a few moments yesterday as I said goodbye to things and also realizing I’m taking a break from Seattle, which could be just for the short term or could end up being a breakup (I just don’t know yet).

I hope I’ll find my answers in the journey, but I also have to be okay with knowing I might not find answers at all.

Riri – I’m not getting rid of my knuckles, don’t worry.

Coco Cherie

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