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.