Unboxing the Past

Since I moved into the Pink Palace roughly two years ago, my garage has been filled with boxes. Most of them came directly from the basement of the house I  rented for the first year after my divorce, unopened there or here.

Packing for the end-of-marriage moving day was done in a hurry, amidst the worst emotional turmoil of my adult life. Usually a well-organized, careful packer (a mover once complimented me) I just threw things into whatever box was handy. I didn’t clean or cull, just dumped anything in the house that I had defined as “mine” into a container, shoved them into the u-haul, and that was that.

In the following year I acquired some used furniture, new bedding, and rugs for the hardwood floors. I opened most of the kitchen boxes and a few books, but the rest stayed in the basement, awaiting a “permanent” home. Once I had one, I dumped the boxes in the garage and set about remodeling. I did one garage cleanout, but still didn’t have enough emotional distance to really dig into the boxes from 10 years of marriage.

Today dawned gorgeously: sunny and brisk, with leaves drifting from trees and a forecast for a rare dry day. Inspiration took hold, and I plowed through box after box.  Photo of the pricey cherry dining set I left with the ex? Gone. Little gifts I have no use for but saved for sentiment? Gone. Old boxes of pens and pencils, toys my godsons long ago outgrew, books I bought but never read? Gone, gone, gone.

When I came across a wedding photo or momento of my ex-husband, I smiled at the captured good memories and paused to hope he is happy. And meant it.

I found three calculators, two bike bells (neither ever installed), a huge  box of gauze bandages I can’t for the life of me account for, my favorite childhood ragdoll, and bungee cords. Lots of bungee cords. Large, small, red, blue, orange.  Apparently my life has required a lot of flexible tie-downs over time. Seems right.

I left kites on the steps of a neighbor with kids, and Dr. Seuss books on the porch rocker another uses with her infant. I put out a “free” pile of design magazines, complete with the magazine holder, and was pleased it disappeared in under an hour.  I donated old bifold doors and light fixtures to the Re-building center, and clothes, bedding, dishes, and toys to Goodwill.

The last effort was a scary one: the top of the garage came with large full garbage bags of… something. The house has a peppered history of shady tenants, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wrestled my configurable ladder into the long version and climbed up. There were more bags than I expected. Some were translucent, and a mass of greyish stuff showed. “Oh, please don’t be pot, ” I said aloud.

I nabbed the closest and dropped it off the edge. Tufts of fluffy grey matter huffed out a hole as it landed, and I realized it was bl0w-in insulation. But it was used: there were chunks of lathe poking through other bags. (Really it was easier to load it up a ladder to the garage loft than get it to the dump?) Still: not pot, not nasty mildewed clothes, just insulation. .

So, no more ghosts. No wondering what is in the boxes, or left from renters of years past. Only things that I can use, now, in this house and this life. And a whole lot of bungee cords.

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2 comments on “Unboxing the Past

  1. mycleverpet says:

    What a well-written, and brave account of unboxing the past, Shelby. (The mystery bags would have been VERY scary to open!!!)

    It took me about five years after my divorce to really heal and feel like “myself” again. (My marriage only lasted 2 years.) Now, almost 19 years later (HOW can that be? I’m not THAT old!!) I can say that I can run into him and have a very pleasant conversation and remember why I ever fell for him. I, too, wish him the best, but I’m grateful that the door on our relationship is closed.

    Thanks to you, I have started a WordPress account (something I’d been wanting to do, but hadn’t figured out how, yet), so I can also share my musings on life with dogs/pets. (Mine will most likely be business oriented. At least that’s the plan for now. I’m sure I’ll throw personal stuff in there as well, knowing myself as I do! 🙂 )

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. mycleverpet says:

    Oh, my name didn’t show up. This is Cindy Bohannan!! 🙂

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