I’m in the middle of packing and shipping some things, discarding other things, and mentally preparing myself to leave many things behind. Not surprisingly I suppose, in the middle of trying to do all this I got sick with a weird left-side-only ear/throat infection. It may have a physical cause (last Saturday I went hiking in a cold wind with periodic hard rain showers and I do recall having rain driven into my left ear), or it may be entirely due to the psychological stress of leaving this place and this part of my life behind me.
My physical surroundings are in total disarray. Yesterday I took 200 pounds worth of “stuff” to UPS and shipped it home. I’ve done a dump run, and this afternoon I’ll do a Goodwill run. Then I’ll have to figure out how to fit the artwork, electronic gadgets, and things needed en route into my car. My cats, that stuff, and I will hit the road within the next few days, leaving an unsold, mostly furnished condo behind. I’ll probably do another price reduction soon, and then cross my fingers that someone will want it furnished so I won’t have to come back later to dispose of the rest of the stuff. When I go, I want to be gone for good.
As far back as I can remember, leaving a place has been a gut-wrenching experience for me. Even leaving a place that I don’t want to be can be difficult. My choice to do a dissertation about the experience of being in a place was not an idle one; this was something deep that I really needed to understand about myself. Why do I get so attached to places? Why is it so hard for me to go? Why is it that, once I have left, I can hardly bear ever to return?
Once about ten years ago I had the opportunity to move back into a house that I’d loved very much but had had to leave about five years earlier. As much as I had loved that house and that town, I could not go back there. Partly that was because I didn’t want to be the person who’d lived there then, but mostly it was because leaving there had broken my heart and I didn’t want to risk having to go through it all again the next time. It was a house perched a mile high on the edge of a mountain range, overlooking a large portion of southern California. I looked down on millions of people, houses, cars, and lights. On a clear day I could see the ocean. I left it because keeping my job required it. I could no longer do the commute, which was 96 miles each way.
I am leaving this condo because I don’t need it; it is superfluous; it is holding me back. And yet I know what it meant to Kurt, and I know that he truly hoped I would keep it and live the life that he had wanted us to live. So this is me saying goodbye to something more complex and subtle than just another place.
I have other places to go…
It is time for me to say goodbye to this place.
Yet as I’ve said here a few times, this place does have its charms. Want another example? I took this photo the day I tried to go hiking in Joshua Tree National Park.
This was the day after the hike in the cold wind and rain, and hours before I realized I was getting sick. Although I’d expected to see snow and dressed accordingly, I wasn’t prepared for how cold blowing snow can feel when you’ve been in warm sunshine for the past few months. I was out of my car only long enough to take several photos.
It’s been a couple of weeks now since I’ve run, but right now I barely have the energy to walk, so I’m not worrying about not running. I expect to get right back on a regular schedule when I get home.
Right now, I am living in the in-between… but soon… I will be home.