Recently my partner and I moved out of our apartment, which, incidentally, isn’t on my top ten list of favorite things to do.
Nonetheless, the experience turned out to be quite cathartic. I found things I had not seen in years, revisited past and forgotten work, and had the freedom to clean out my closets, releasing things that were obstructing my life.
Like any good household, we had a junk drawer in at least two of the five rooms.
But to my surprise, I found a junk drawer I never knew existed – filled with treats.
While packing our tiny office, I grudgingly worked my way to the back corner of the room where my partner kept a small desk.
One drawer was full of electrical cables and adapters, old keys, work papers he refused to deal with, and CDs that he felt important enough to take-up space in the drawer (but not so important to merit sleeves or anything to prevent the gouges they received bouncing around the drawer for two years).
I felt an incredible urge to dump each drawer into a giant trash bag and rid it from our lives. If he wasn’t going to take responsibility for the mess, why should I? He probably wouldn’t even notice. He’d just assume he’d lost whatever I threw away, which has happened before (ha!).
Instead I gained my neat-freak composure and unloaded each drawer one by one onto the floor. And by extraordinary chance, there they were – items humbly magical and animated, piled high for me to admire.
One drawer, it turned out, wasn’t his classic litter bin, it was his memoir.
He’d stashed every love note I had ever given him in the past 13 years. I found cards, post-it notes, letters, menus, napkins with hundreds of kisses, and other knickknacks I’d filled his heart with.
He hadn’t thrown a single one out. He still even had the first little yellowed note I wrote my phone number on.
I instantly felt guilty for assuming the “stuff” he held onto were throw-away items of little use.
There they were, our love wrapped up as souvenirs for him to treasure. Mementos I’d long forgotten, but he still held dear.
It was exhilarating to look back on a small part of the history of our life together. As I read each card I became more and more nostalgic, like being part of an audience that came to watch a chapter of one’s life played out on stage and seeing it anew through their eyes.
One card I sent him from 1999 made the biggest impression.
“Until I Fell In Love With You,” it read on the front. This was from when he traveled for ten months out of the year, so letters, cards and phone calls were our main form of communication.
In the card, I had tried to express our deep love for each other, and the idea that while being ‘separate’ means physically and emotionally apart for most people, the distance could never separate us.
I must have had a very difficult time trying to explain what I was feeling because I crossed out and scribbled over words (probably wishing I had Wite-Out), and remarked on mistakes, but I never managed to get my point across. I couldn’t articulate the sentiment coherently.
See for yourself:
We all believe that we are seperate [sic] from each other. We have the belief that you are over there and I am over here. Our experiences have been varied and different. Life has unfolded in different ways for each of us because of our experiences.
We may have experienced the same exact things, but we have heard the same things said by different people, in different ways. These are minor details that support the belief in seperation [sic]. Our souls however, know the truth.
I’ve decided to listen, to recognize, and trust in that. I’m walking over to you – over there, and making it our over here…
Reading the card again was incredibly moving. I was experiencing a feeling I’d never felt before – sheer release.
In reading it, I inspired myself. I cried loudly, unconcerned with anyone hearing me. I allowed the tears to flow freely. They were there to heal past insecurities, erase critics, and scream, ‘how far you’ve come, it’s yours to cherish!’
Today, I can write. I have a voice. I no longer feel imprisoned by my poor early childhood education or the pain of hearing words implode inside my head with nowhere to express them.
I can write (and so can you)!
Sometimes you have to recognize your own accomplishments before others will. I am still not an expert in the field of writing/storytelling, but when I look back on the low points of my journey, I’ve discovered I can love them just as much as my accomplishments.
Triumph can be yours, long before the rest of the world catches up. Cheers to my path!
Photo credit: Clara Hardie