My apartment looks like some thieves broke in and took half my stuff. And then put it in boxes, which is where this simile no longer conveys meaning because thieves never put half your stuff in boxes—they steal it. See, I’m the one who put the stuff in boxes because I’m moving. Again. There are root bound people and there are nomads and I’ve always gravitated toward getting down the road. Running away? Running to? Not sure, but the bottom line is that I like running and I like moving because it feels akin to the way things are. Indeed, what isn’t constantly moving, exploding into newness, and changing? Even the most statuesque monk is riding a planet that’s spinning more than a 1000 MPH as it hurls, 67,000 MPH, around the sun.
What’s the deal when half your stuff is in your old place and the other half’s at your new one? Where do you live?
Though actually lugging them can be a bother, I love to pack and unpack my books because it forces me to touch them, to hold each one in my hands and rocket through what I remember about them, where I was when I read them, how old I was, who I was. I would venture to say that all books change you in some way, even if only minutely, but then there are some books that really mess with who you are. Like, before you read the book, you were this person, right? But afterwards, now you’re someone else. And in the boxes they go, now between places, those books between who you used to be and who you became.
The sight of a half furnished residence is unsettling. Whether someone’s moving in or moving out, the lack of balance says There is no place to rest. A symbol? Perhaps. Or maybe the actual place where everyone always lives.
Emptying the contents of my desk drawers into a box. Stopped. By a picture. My little girl, littler, in a pink corduroy coat standing on a green football field. Smacks of a watermelon. Her thin blonde hair held in sway by the wind and the stasis of photography. She grins mostly toothless. Saliva on her chin. Michigan, so she must be two. Then. But here, now, two again. She waits at the finish line for me to finish a 5K. She runs the last part with me. The tiny barrette barely necessary—her hair just beginning to trickle into her big blue eyes. She runs. Or hobbles with haste on her short little legs. But she tries. She runs and runs and things run together. I’m in my apartment. I’m running a race. I’m holding a picture. My daughter is nine. Not the girl in the picture. A little sister? An acorn? A seed? My god how the wind just blows and blows.
Where are we always going? Backwards. Forwards. The wind keeps blowing.
Someday she’ll be twenty-two, between times, and I’ll help her pack boxes. She’ll be tall and thoughtful and her face will harbor only ghostly flickers of the nine-year-old girl I run with today. So changed. Never the same. And I’ll wonder about the substance of the thread that runs through the two-year-old girl in pink corduroy to this twenty-two-year-old woman on the move and what will there be? Nothing. Just various erupting forms of nothing held together by only a sloppy lack of distinctions, a name, and a social security number. “Dad?” she’ll say, snapping her fingers. “Over here.” Clap Clap. “Dad? That’s the face you make when you’re wondering if I’m real. I am. Real. I promise. And so is this couch that needs to go on the truck. I’ll show you.” Straining to lift the couch, I’ll remember the way she strained her little legs to finish a 5K with me and her later efforts to read, make friends, find her own way, and grow up. And even if I philosophically conclude that there is no place to rest, that no self abides, and that we are always only somewhere in between, I will ultimately concede to the substantial fact of my daughter. In spite of the constancy of flux, she is held together, no matter which way the wind cares to blow, by the ceaseless love of her daddy.
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