Spring Cleaning

Life is getting smaller for us.

We have a little over two weeks before we gather up our backpacks, holding everything we hope we need for five months, and catch a flight to California. With that timeline comes the flurry of packing and repacking, sorting and analyzing, and giving things away. We have lists and excel spreadsheets, and constant Siri reminders set for all hours of the day.

Packing life up to travel is a long series of tiny goodbyes.

Goodbye jeans, which are too ripped to wear. Goodbye anally mentally checking my to-do lists while pretending to relax with Avry at our favorite coffee shop in the morning. Goodbye full sized toothbrush. Goodbye books I’ve been meaning to read. Goodbye having a home of my own.

As our lives gets packed away into brown paper boxes and plastic tuperwear and endless reusuable bags (I knew we were saving them for a reason!), I keep stumbling upon saved mementos.

There’s that letter from an ex, trying to make amends. There’s the rolls and rolls of (real!) film we took on our road trip across the country. There are the insane lists I scrawled upon receipts and envelops and scraps of paper, folded and refolded into pockets in my jackets — trying to find simplicity in the whirl of the world. There are the love notes I wrote and hid around the apartment when I was away for a month and missing and not missing home. There is the start of my mother’s memoir — sent to me to make sure history was passed down.

As these things and grownup responsibilities get packed away and ticked off my lists and lists, life shrinks a little. I am not my dresses and mountaineering boots and boxes of unfavorite pasta. I am not textbooks with notes in the margins. I am not the items I save, hoping to use later. I am not photobooth pictures or magnets or calendars from years past. I am not Dusty Roads, the car that galloped all the way to Seattle from New York, sweating us out in the desert when the A/C went caput.

It’s frightening as life shrinks, and these talismans of the person I feel I am are set aside. It is frightening to look into the future and have no idea of what it holds. It is frightening to try and redefine myself, away from my possessions. And it is frightening to realize that life is much smaller and much larger than the things I keep busy with in what I consider my “normal” life.

I don’t know who I am, but I do know that in a few weeks, life will be as tiny and as huge as what is right under my two feet.