Seven days into the new year, I work through emails, lists, photos from the marriage. I set aside the ones of me, gazing at the man behind the lens. Evidence of an expected pact on my part, a fiction for the subject. These are later torn, tossed on a growing pile of incomprehensible pieces.
Life is a cycle of doing and un-doing. Mis-doing and re-doing. Not-doing too. It's been nearly two years since a particular undoing. I remember the numbness in the mornings after that night. Over time expanded by friendship and will, the nullity revealed itself as an unfamiliar lightness. An uplifting of burdens. Of luggage I had mistook for belonging.
Everything I owned between 1995 and 2005 lies in a storage facility in California, about 5000 miles away. I can't afford to keep it for too long. Nor does Jim want anyone to pick it up for me before he decides what's his. And that may take months. Will I have to let go the remainders of my unruly youth? the traces of its shambolic trajectory? Another undoing awaits. Nevertheless, there is ever the passionately embraced future.
So here is a list, because words will serve as the substitute for what is loved and lost and remembered. Writing is a kind of power, a form of address to the lost, missing, and absent, and finally an act of self-preservation, of simultaneous doing and un-doing. Tomorrow I will look at this list and think this was mine. And weeks or months from now, it will no longer trouble me so, the remembering. No ache, but a lightness, unfamiliar but certain.
So the list: An antique desk with thin metal legs from when I lived in the attic in Berkeley; a crimson Afghan rug, which I purchased instead of a bed sometime in 1997; a red album of every photo taken between 1995 and 2002; a green vintage luggage-box containing zines; a big black shoebox of letters from my teens up to 2005; a long black tin box of pictures; a carved wooden box, a gift from Niva whom I haven't spoken with in years; a print of birds from Helen; a print of a Balinese dancer I found in a junkshop; an owl from a series I had painted on plastic bags and then framed; a collection of masks, gifted or found in flea markets; a little horse, all cloth and mirrors; a tall polished black sculpture of an apsara; a laughing boy Buddha in a blue robe; a dish inscribed with Edward Lear's poem about the Owl and the Pussycat; books, too many books to recall without feeling faithless if I should only mention a few, books that shaped my thoughts and desires; and stuffed toys - a stripey-legged doll made from socks by Tara; a miniature yeti from Paul, who once gave me a cigar box stuffed with strawberries; and a worn old rabbit in a tee shirt with "Bunny Love" written in ink on it - my brother's, when he was a child.
Stuff: it's about everything but stuff.