My Life in Boxes

Right now I’m staring at my life in boxes.

It’s got me thinking about my life, in boxes.

In the box marked “regret” is the day I gave up on myself as a yoga teacher. And every minute I’ve spent in a tanning bed. It contains the moments I’ve yelled “what the fuck?!” in traffic or refused to let someone merge. It has a pile of aggressive political conversations and years of using feminism to harass my closest friends.

In the box marked “works in progress,” I pack my unfinished dreams: to learn how to speak Spanish, and play the guitar. To write a children’s book, and a trendy, stylish blog. To fly to Antartica and get my hands on a penguin. To be nice to strangers. And my family. And myself.

There’s an empty box marked “romantic relationships.” I keep trying to stuff my male best friend into it. He keeps wriggling away and insisting he doesn’t fit.

The “fears” box is overflowing. It’s like my closet, perpetually overstuffed. I’m in denial about its fullness and unwilling to purge it. The contents are so deep and dense I’m not even sure what’s in there. I can name a million reasons why I don’t need to find out.

There is a box for my happiest memories, one for my cherished friendships and another full of things I’m saving to some day spoil my brother’s kids.

There’s a box for lessons my mom taught me, like how to bake the perfect cheesecake and why mayonnaise is essential for moist garlic bread.

There are boxes I’ve moved all eight times since I left college. Others I’m moving for the first time. There are boxes that have been sealed since the last time I moved.

There are boxes I think I can’t live without, and others I pretend don’t exist.

Moving is part cleanse, part intervention. It’s an unavoidable confrontation with everything I’m carrying. It’s an opportunity to clear my life of clutter.

Or pack it away.

Some things are easy to discard, like t-shirts with stains and dresses I haven’t put on since 2008.

Some things are difficult to part with, like decisions I can’t make peace with and mistakes I’m still trying to understand.

In my imagination I cling to nothing.

In my living room, I have boxes and boxes of stuff.

I’m reminded that life is always moving. That every uncomfortable conversation, encounter or maneuver in traffic is a chance to let go. Or hold on. I can give it a label and put it in a box. Or I can observe it and leave it behind.

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