My living space is in a much better state now. The walls are bare, the trash is out, and I think I’ve finally figured out which electronic cords I actually want to keep (I’ve kept a heaping bag full of various USB, phone, & stereo connectors for years).
Despite the stress, it has been nice to pause and read things as I hover over the recycling bin with a stack of papers. I’ve read several of my college essays (all of which I’ve kept) and the best parts of them: professors’ feedback. These comments were helpful to me at the time I first received them, but I think they are even more meaningful now. I can re-read my essays with some distance, and I now see exactly what my professors were saying about how my argument was not convincing enough, or my transitions were too brusque. It was hard to accept these criticisms a week or two after I’d spent a few all-nighters writing something, but after a few years, I see myself for who I was: a student. A student who needed guidance and critique in order to grow. There was one essay where I left some sentences unfinished–I swear I must have been on crack–and now those lines bear the blood of the professor’s red circlings and of the wordless expression, “???”
I have also stopped to read the many greeting cards that I’ve amassed over time. It’s in my nature to whittle these down to a select few, but I’ve decided to keep most of them–the happy birthdays, the thank yous, the announcements. It has been unbelievably touching to read the cards from my parents the day I graduated college, and to well up as I re-read my mom saying that that day was as big a day for her as it was for me. Or the love letters. Or the cards simply saying “thank you” for being a good friend. What a wonderful process to go through, to purge all your belongings, a practice that forces you to really read things and understand how much love there is. This whole experience of saying goodbye has astounded me: it is so melancholy, but at the same time, I never realized how much I would be missed, or that there were that many people to miss me in the first place. Wow. (I love you guys too!)