My bedroom floor is currently a mosaic of my past memories.
I am in the process of packing up my possessions before I take the long journey across the ocean to England, where I will spend the next nine months. But anyone who has tried to pack a large volume of miscellaneous items into square boxes knows that half the process is spreading things out in order to see how they might all fit together. It’s like putting together a puzzle made out of past memories embedded in the objects that you choose to pack, and right now, those memories are spread out all over the floor, staring up at me.
This is the room in which I have slept since the seventh grade, when I was finally deemed old enough to move from my room upstairs near my parents to the bedroom in the basement by myself. Although I was afraid of the basement in the first nights that I slept there, I have since grown quite attached to the room. I have written songs in this room, pouring my heart out to the blue walls and the black carpet. I have cried in this room, staining the pillows with tears and black mascara. I have watched and re-watched my favorite movies here, read and reread my favorite books here, played and replayed my favorite CDs here.
Even before I moved into this room, it was a playroom for my elementary school friends and me. One of my earliest memories of the room is this: I am standing on a pile of pillows, a wand in my hand, pretending I’m a fairy. My best friend Lynden is in the room. We are in first grade, and I say to her “Did you know the capitol of England is named after you?”
Twenty-year-old me finds it quite funny that six-year-old me thought that the capitol of England was “Lynden,” especially considering the fact that I’m going there in a matter of days. Perhaps it’s fitting that I remember saying that so vividly in this room, my room, the room that I am leaving so that I can go to England. Perhaps my journey to London was inevitable even then.
But this is not a story of how spending a year in England was “fate” or “destiny.” This is the story of what it feels like to take every physical representation of who you are and pack each one carefully into a box.
I pull the cast-signed Spring Awakening poster from my wall and slide it into a poster sleeve. I pick up the journal filled with everything I wrote during my sophomore year of high school and put it in a brown packing box. I take the books one by one from the bookshelves and stack them in boxes according to size. All of my belongings fit into six cardboard boxes.
It is difficult to look around this room and see walls bare of pictures, bookshelves vacant of textbooks and my favorite fiction series, the open closet doors revealing only empty hangers. It is sad to see it all spread out on the floor, a mosaic of my identity represented by the objects that mean the most to me, the collection of items that tell my story. It is sadder still to see it all packed away into six big moving boxes, heavy with their own weight and the weight of my memories.
Still, as I stow away the last box in our attic, I think of the life that will begin when I step onto the plane that will take me to Heathrow. I think of the objects that I will collect as I travel the world, memories embedded in each one. I think of the pictures I will take and the songs I will write. I think of the movies and books and albums I will bring back and add to my collections. I think of this, and I think that maybe it’s okay to pack up the past so that you can make room for the future.