She agreed to take home a suitcase for me. Two months ago this seemed like a godsend: I’d be able to travel after service with just my backpack and wouldn’t have to pay exorbitant fees to ship things home.
We had planned The Big Pack for Monday night. We ate dinner and procrastinated.
Two months ago this seemed like a great idea. On Monday night I started to feel unprepared. It seemed rash to be packing already.
Still, I knew I’d decided this months ago. There was no other way. And just like the process of Getting Here, I knew the process of Leaving would sometimes required that I turn off the rest and just put one foot in front of the other.
At 9:00 I finally padded to my room and returned with an armful of clothes. From there I took pictures and posters off my walls. Sorted through jewelry. Wrapped my favorite mug. Labored over the book shelf. Pulled the crayon drawings off my fridge.
It took an hour. Just one hour and my little life was piled right there on the coffee table.
It doesn’t look like much, I said.
And Jenah laughed.
And I laughed.
And I was happy she was there with me in my little house with my little pile of life.
We fit the whole thing into one suitcase. We pre-packed my Kilimanjaro bag. Everything fit there too. With extra space even.
In less than two hours we’d finished. My suitcase and backpack and daypack sat in a line along the orange curtains. I flip flopped through my house. A “final sweep” Dad used to say when we were leaving the summer house. I swept over and over. I paced. Jenah caught me staring at a bare wall where the shadows of my pictures still remained.
Come on. She said. Let’s go outside.
We sit on my porch sipping cocoa beneath the banana tree silhouette and the Milky Way smear and a billion blinking stars.
I say thanks and my voice shakes.
There is a conversation I can’t remember. There is laughter.
After, it feels easier to be inside. I pinch the last bits of tape off my walls and rinse out our mugs and say good night. My room looks like 2008. My luggage like the day I left.
Maybe we have to go back before we can go forward. I lie in bed reminiscing. Playing it over. A song without a chorus. Sad in places and loudfasthigh in others. Frequent crescendos. And the finale -- just now starting to fade.