We are getting some long overdue renovations done on our home. So we’ve moved out temporarily. Possessions, old memories, chairs, a bed and a closet. Shifting these means sifting through old memories buried in dust.
The last time I shifted homes, I was coming back, abruptly. I’d moved out to start a new life. It wasn’t easy and involved having to break bonds to create boundaries. Then I fell into a bad relationship and finally, was evicted from the home I’d created. Luckily for me, I had a place to return to. But it looked very different from when I had left it. My family, never dreaming that I would be back so soon, had renovated and done away with my space, turning it instead into a kind of study. So my return was an intrusion, a tacked-on awkward addition on top of a carefully planned design.
I did my best to blend back in and beautify as best possible. I’ve realised that to my good fortune, this is not hard for me. I can work with spaces (and their constraints). Plants & books go a long, very long way in giving a space a touch of my personal warmth & bright life.
When I was with my ex, my family gifted us a bookshelf. He used it as his cupboard. In the sudden breakup, we cauterised every connection, impersonally dividing up assets. So this piece of furniture became mine a whole year after it had been given to me but used by someone else. Furniture can be deeply personal, especially something like a cupboard. I filled it with books, subconsciously trying to heal every trace of embittered intimacy I’d shared. New books I hadn’t read yet, full of promises of brighter futures (because every new book is). Expensive, highly acclaimed graphic novels that took me to different planets of escape (and still do). And in the years to come, odd intimate gifts from other people – a teddy bear on a clip from a former classmate, an embroidered hand fan from an almost flame. Pretty quirky stationery like neon crayon highlighters. An old mattress repurposed as a floor rug for when I was feeling hippy & rolled up & put away on the bottom shelf. I have worked very hard to heal.
In the last week, the redesign plans have needed difficult decisions like getting rid of ancient furniture and paring back old & irrelevant possessions. And this bookshelf has been on the faultlines. I’ve been attached to it. In a truce, we’ve carried it over to await a decision till we have to move back to what will surely be a different-looking space. But today, while the movers were shifting it, the drawer came off. I didn’t even know it detached. And from behind it, fell a bunch of papers & a CD with my ex’s name on it. The papers were bills for milk, newspapers, and utilities. His name on some, mine on some, our address on them all. He must have stuffed them in there to claim for office expenses. And never noticed that they fell behind the drawer.
I had forgotten the details of our address, where once I’d spell it out a few times a week on average. These were the days before widespread e-commerce & apps that store every keystroke of your information & people still relied on writing & reconfirming address details & landmarks. All these years I have felt ripped from that lovely home I created. But I didn’t remember the name of the building. Like that matters.
My tarot meditations of the last week have been warning of the release of things from the past, the death of all that doesn’t anymore serve. This always scares me & given the last few years, puts me on a watchful edge over everyone’s health. But standing in that mostly empty flat, holding these decade-old bills with an address that hasn’t been home in a long time, I realised I was being given a kind of death. I dropped the papers into the trash & broke the CD for good measure. It snapped with a terrific crack, sending shards of mirror-like plastic all over the floor. I felt nothing. Over.
In my temporary digs, I’m not using that bookshelf myself. And I suddenly don’t feel as attached to it anymore. Something has given. I hadn’t even realised how clogged I was. And my new space doesn’t feel as foreboding as I feared. It’s my first night here, my first night somewhere in a really long time. There’s space to be filled. That’s promising.