A Life In Pictures, Packed Away

You don't actually feel like you're moving from one place to another until you pack the junk drawer in the kitchen. This week I packed that drawer. And I'm here to tell you: shit got real, real fast.

It didn't take long to pack it. In fact, most of the contents were trash and the remnants ended up in a small box no bigger than a pack of tissues. But the damage was done. It was painfully clear that I am moving out of the house I bought with the intention of keeping forever. The house, it is important to point out, that I bought for her. Her. Who is no longer here. 

It's past "time to move on" and I know in the long run it's what's best for the kids and me. That said there are many little things I wasn't expecting as I began to pack. Things that stung. Things that made me question my decisions up to this point in my life. Things that made me want to stay and things that made me want to move on right then and there. And it wasn't the drawer that made me feel all these things, all at once.

It was the pictures in the hall.

At the risk of sounding cliché it was the damn photos we hung in the hall. Moments and times we never wanted to forget. Mommy kissing son. Brother and sister, arm in arm, on grandma's porch. Husband and wife, kissing and giving a side eye to the camera. All told there were nine of these pictures. I had taken them down quickly at first, dusting them and not actually giving them a second thought. After all, I had to dust them - how important could they possibly be if I had let such a layer of filth collect? I put them in a box. I taped the box and marked it "Hall Pics". I put the box in my car.

Then I went back in.

I looked up the staircase.

I had the second panic attack of my life.

Not since the death of my mother had I encountered such a sudden and real feeling of loss and...something else. Even now, almost a week later, I still can't put my finger on what it was exactly that ran through me at that moment. But it was harmful in a way that I am certain will last a lifetime.

I know full well (all too well) that some moments leave a mark on your life, who you are and who you will become. That moment left a scar. The difference? Marks can be cleaned away after they change you; forgotten with time. Scars stick. You can't ignore them. Instead, you have to build everything that you call "normal" from that moment on around that scar.

And scars are sneaky. They can remind you of their presence at the most random times. Like when you're at work, talking to a customer, and you look down at their feet and see the same kind of flip flops she wore when the two of you went to the Newberry Library and took that photo of your feet on the elaborate mosaic floor. You went there to research the old manuscripts of typewriter related materials. She went to try to see the book bound in human skin. Then you went to Hemingway's childhood home and then on to lunch. When you got home you made love in the living room, surrounded by bookshelves and all those dead authors you admire so much. And then you hear something for, what? the third time? It's the customer asking about how the same-day shipping works and suddenly you're back at work, back in reality, back in today. But wishing you were back in that library or restaurant or living room. But you're not. And neither is she.

And neither of you ever will be again.

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