In less than a week, I have to have all my worldly possessions packed and ready to go into storage. Moving on short notice is stressful at the best of times, but with all the intense emotions surrounding going through Mike’s things and leaving the home we shared together, it’s been a real emotional rollercoaster. After my dad died, it took a year before my mom was ready to even think about giving away any of his things. Sometimes I really wish I had the luxury of that kind of time. On the other hand, I don’t feel safe staying in the apartment alone and I’m looking forward to being in a more comfortable place. So I keep pushing forward.

At first I couldn’t bear the thought of not being surrounded by his things. It took me a week to pick his dirty clothes up off the floor, and even longer to wash them. Every time I came across his guitar picks, scattered all over the apartment, I choked up. When we took his art down to display at the memorial service, the empty space on the wall really bothered me. Such an obvious sign that something was missing…

A couple weeks ago, I cleaned out the drawers in the night table on Mike’s side of the bed. That was his personal space, and if I wasn’t moving I’d probably have kept it untouched, inviolable. Sitting on the bed, I sorted through two years worth of receipts that he’d just thrown in a drawer. Mixed in with the receipts, a wallet he never carried with him, electronic gadgets, expired gift cards and checks he’d forgotten to cash, I found the greeting cards I’d given him. There they all were, from just about every birthday, Valentine’s Day and anniversary in the four years we lived together. Mike wasn’t a “card person” and only started buying me cards when I told him how much they mattered to me. He wasn’t sentimental about things like that, and discovering that he’d kept them moved me to tears. I curled up on the bed and sobbed, and that was all the sorting I got done that day.

As I disassemble the apartment, packing a few boxes each day, it’s getting easier. Except for the bedroom, which I’m leaving intact as long as possible, the apartment no longer feels like our home. I think my plan to be a “nomad” for a few months is helping with the letting go. Mike and I had talked and dreamed of doing that once the kids were grown, and the plan was to pare our material possessions down to the bare minimum – just clothes, a computer to stay connected with the world, the necessary tools and supplies for our various arts, and a couple of instruments for him to play. I’m sticking with this plan and only taking what will fit in my car. Fortunately, the tools of my art – a laptop, notebooks and pens – take up a lot less space than his tools did. I’m passing on Mike’s art to the kids, so it can hang on their bedroom walls instead of sitting in a storage unit, and also the instruments he played, which I hope they will one day play too. I know these items of their dad’s mean a lot to them, and I trust they’ll take good care of it all. If we’d been able to do the nomad thing together, Mike would have given it all away. He probably would have insisted on selling our furniture instead of paying to store it, too, but I’m going to want familiar furnishings around me to make my next place feel like home.

Well, back to work. These boxes aren’t going to pack themselves…


~ by hourbeforedawn on June 21, 2010.

2 Responses to “Packing”

  1. Hi Lira, I have been lurking for a little while reading your blog…I worked at WB (the lot) in Hollywood for about 18 months in 2001 before getting transferred over to the WB lot in Burbank. I knew Mike, though not very well, but wow what an intriguing and talented guy. I am also friends with Mike N. and Evan, which is how I found out about Mike’s death. I just want to tell you that even though I haven’t any idea how difficult this time must be for you right now, reading your words is very emotional for me. You are a very powerful writer, and it seems that you are finding a way to clearly communicate emotions that can be so difficult to articulate. Wishing you the best with your upcoming travels, and I will be tuning in to follow your journey.

  2. I know how difficult it is to pack up everything you own in preparation for leaving on a journey. This week, I’ve been doing pretty much the reverse after having our belongings moved to the old house I’m working on here in Nova Scotia. Unpacking some of the boxes has been and will be a bit like defusing bombs. I’ll pack some of the stuff up again in the autumn when I leave – irreplaceable things (mostly sentimental) that I would not want to see destroyed if something happened to the house while I’m gone from autumn through spring. I’ll be going nomad again for awhile, but in Arizona for the coldest part of winter. Oddly enough, I’m already looking forward to that – I’ve been here in the east for a couple of months and will stay until October. After living like a nomad, it’s been a break to be in one place for awhile, but I miss moving around too. It will be interesting to read about where you go, what you do, how you feel about traveling over the next while. For me, it has been quite therapeutic. It’s the staying still that has been more difficult. Good luck with everything.

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