When we last moved, we lost pretty much everything we owned, but books, photograph albums, some CD’s and movies, we packed in giant Ziploc bags. When we moved to our new apartment, I didn’t want to open them for another 18 months- the life span of a dormant bed bug- even though I’d even had a specially trained dog come in and sniff each bag.
So, it’s especially odd to be unpacking those now- I haven’t seen the contents since I packed them away when Audrey was only a couple of months old and we had already been living with my parents for a couple of months. We spent two weekends in the old apartment, feverishly throwing stuff out and throwing some stuff in these bags. They sat in storage until we found our current apartment a few months later. Then they were stacked in the entry way closet. I never even opened those doors. But now, since we’re staying a bit longer, it just felt right to fully unpack. But that hasn’t meant it’s been easy- today I unpacked the rest of the closet. In one bag I found your “daddy phone,” the empty toilet paper roll you used to use to talk to Audrey while she was still in my belly. I will put it in a special box with other memories to show her when she’s older. I’m really glad I saved it somehow amidst all of that chaos.
I also found the first gift you ever gave me- a chalkboard. You thought it was cute and unique. It’s a small back chalkboard with a little shelf and you got it at a little store in Koreatown. I had saved the cute Korean wrapping paper for years, but I remember a couple of years ago deciding I could let that go- I kind of wish I had it now. I still remember seeing you walking off the bus holding a shopping bag with the present and trying to pretend I didn’t see it when we greeted one another on the overpass above the high way.
I am thinking now as I sit here- Audrey quietly talking to herself in her crib- that little chalkboard on the foot of my bed…how that chalkboard lasted for eleven years now, but you are gone. Whenever I buy stuff, I always think about how one day it’ll be broken or in a landfill- that is really for certain. But now I am thinking how in some ways, it’s easier to “keep” these things than to keep a human being. Had the chalkboard been in Lake Geneva for a few hours, it probably would’ve come out OK after it dried. Yes, the human body also has amazing inherent capabilities for healing and regrowth even- but ultimately- how very fragile we are. That is because we are containers of something much more precious and fragile than any piece of wood or plastic or slate…life. How different we are from any other physical “object.” We breathe, we beat, we reason, we love.