Friday, January 28, 2011

I am getting good at losing things.

I am getting good at losing things, I think.

I lost all my favorite clothes recently -- I don't have many pants or sweaters actually, and the few that I loved I'd stowed away in an overnight bag which I absentmindedly left on a train last time I left NYC. I filed a claim with NJ Transit's lost & found and immediately headed to the store because I knew I'd never see them again.

Some people like shopping. I don't. It's probably why I have few clothes.

I'm not that sentimental with things either. I don't have much jewelry. No family heirlooms. If someone gives me a tchotchke I think is hideous, I donate it. I know the thrill of nabbing a prized thriftstore find, why not let someone else have a chance at appreciating it?

I have no sentimentality for furniture. I *like* certain pieces but I wouldn't have the dilemma I've seen others face ("This dresser is hideous! But it was my grandmother's; where do we put it?") This may be a side effect of having a parent in the moving business where furniture was free and changed often.

We changed houses often too. I've moved 17-18 times in my life. I am a rock star at packing. Home is a place I feel safe, not a specific location. When I stayed at my dad's last, I made a tiny corner my home for almost a week. I slept on an air mattress on the hard ugly floor of his messy office and used a towel for a pillow but it felt cozy because I crawled into it at night with a good book and soaked up the sounds breathing houses make after midnight.

Material things are replaceable. Those losses are easy.

I lived on a sailing vessel for a week, an old wooden ship whose beams still glistened with the salt crystals 1880s fishermen soaked into their catches for preservation. I loved the gentle creaking of the ship at night. When 15 out of the 20 people on board stood over the sides vomiting in a storm, I ferried crackers and water their way, dodging waves and clutching the rail to avoid being pitched over. The anger of the sea is terrifying, but I lost my fear of confrontation that week when I saw someone else getting picked on and stood up to the bully. The rest of that week people talked about my "boldness" but I hadn't been aware that I'd done anything special, only what was right. Some losses are positive.

The hard losses are the ones that come in the middle of the night and steal a thread of you at a time. Stress and anger and regret and fear and bitterness, these thieves make away with joy and peace and time and freedom until you look inside and realize the fabric of your being is a tattered mess and won't even hold a shape anymore; you've no choice but to gather the ruined cloth and start over. That's how I lost my marriage. That's both positive and negative: negative for the obvious reasons, but positive because look at the human spirit, the desire to repair.

The worst loss is that of hope. When we are faced with that which is larger than our wills: death, disease... and human frailty. This means we must learn the impossible: attaining peace and closure where there is none.

I have this crazy exercise I just started doing to help me with some of this heavy stuff. I do it before I go to sleep.

I lie in bed and pretend my soul must now hand off the day's reporting to the manager. My body sits quiet and still and my self, the team lead of this mishmashed assembly of body parts, offers a performance review:
"Yes, today was quite intense, she was really upset over this thing with this guy, but it's because she's raw and sensitive and doesn't realize all the lessons that are to be imparted from all these experiences yet. But she was a rock star because she made it through the day anyway." 
There are nods of approval at my progress: I am doing okay even when I am stumbling the most.

And in this way, I invite hope back home.

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