I love packing. I love packing so much that even now, just thinking about it — the unzipping of the suitcase, the careful piling of clothes, the layering of underwear and the sorting of socks, the lining of shoes in a neat row, heel to heel — I wish I could fast-forward to that moment: the end of the semester, the day before I leave, even better if it’s late at night, edging near morning.
It’s a treat, in a way. After a hard day’s work, a hard week’s work, a hard month’s and months’ of work, the burden is finally lifted and there is nothing more to write or recite or memorize. It’s just the room and me. I’ll open my computer and switch the browser to Netflix, click on that specific show I always watch. I’ll open the closet, open the wardrobe, open the drawers, start the process of choosing, gleeful. Which shirts, which shorts, I’ll even check the weather, once, twice, weigh the fabrics in my palm, think about the look of them, the feel of them, in Arizona, back at home. There’s this moment when I’ll look outside and it’s late, and the show’s still going on in the background, and I’ll feel happy and calm — surreal will almost describe it. Surreal, a sense of floating.
A sense of being unbound.
I don’t know why, then, it should be different when boxes are involved. A suitcase, really, is just a fancy box with zippers instead of tape to seal, and storage is really just a collection of cardboard suitcases. It shouldn’t be such a problem, but now I’m thinking about the end of this semester, and I hate it, I resent it, I want to pause before it or maybe fast-forward through it all, go back to the original suitcase and the original sorting.
Part of it is the finality, I suppose. The weight of choosing what to keep, what to bring, what to give to friends, sell to strangers, throw away and forget about — hopefully. There are objects that I’ve saved, decided to hold on to for whatever reason. And now, I have eight boxes that most things must disappear into — the important things, that’s the logic. I have to choose which memories are the most significant, which deserve to be sealed away, which to resurrect next fall. I believe that when I first made the choice of not throwing away this movie ticket stub, or buying that particular shirt, I had an attachment. I can’t believe that attachment has faded. Packing like this is cruel.
I’ve always been a sentimental person — and sometimes this sentiment is pleasant, the feeling of nostalgia, the tingling in the stomach, the welling of emotions from some unexplored, unknowable place. Yet, other times this sentiment is needy. This sentiment clings.
I just can’t let go.
The crux of it, then: There are blouses on hangers that I have never worn, books on shelves that I have never opened, organic chemistry kits and cartons of mechanical pencils and expired medicines lying around my room. Before this end-of-the-year packing, I can always think to myself, “Sometime.” Sometime I’ll dress like that, sometime I’ll read like that, sometime I’ll do this and that — and now, choose. Most of the time — and this is what I hate — I know that I won’t accomplish whatever I’ve been diddling with.
I like to think that I’m getting better at this — at this type of moving-on packing — with age. I’d like to believe that one day, I’ll be able to understand this leaving and this lump in my throat and this necessity, truly understand it to the point where I feel no pain.
And yet, I don’t get tired of imagining where I could have taken these objects, where I could’ve gone with them, what adventures we could have had and could not have had. These things are just things, that’s true. But, I think about where they are. I think about where they’ll go. I think that maybe someday we’ll both meet again, under strange circumstances — but it’s all right if we don’t.
I like the idea of it being unknown.