September 14, 2015. I was supposed to move. There was an internship in Seattle that I had been accepted into. The school was two hours away, just far enough from home that I would have the breathing room that I needed. You see, things were supposed to change. I had packed all of my dreams, visions and hopes into cardboard boxes and I had made plans to go places with them.
New friends. New routines. New responsibilities. New self.
Really, this move wasn’t about an internship or an experience at all. It wasn’t even about moving cities. If I’m honest, the internship was a bold step into the unknown with the intention of reinventing myself.
So I spent the entire summer saying goodbye. I held old friends close and kept new friends at an arm’s length, aware that goodbyes aren’t easy and that in this case they would be inevitable. It was a summer marked by goodbyes, distance and cardboard boxes.
Plans change though. Visions change.
When the moving truck failed to arrive in September, this year quickly became an unpacking from the move; from the constant moves. It’s the year that I would learn to let go of the brown boxes and taped up love long enough to call this empty space Home. To unpack. To settle in. To make plans here on this all-too-familiar ground.
For too long I had been clinging on to my fairy tale called “Somewhere”. I sang her song on repeat and when my plans fell through, I realized that Somewhere doesn’t actually exist; the place we find at the other side of the think forest. The place we run away to where nobody knows our stories – our stories of failure and inadequacy. The place where people are kind. Where they see you. And you fall in love with the neighbourhood and you find your People; the ones who ensure you that you belong.
As I tore the tape off of my life, all packed up in boxes, I learned that Somewhere is make-believe. It only exists in shiny story books. It is only as real as paper.
Somewhere doesn’t exists because the inadequacy and fears are still packed up in those boxes from the last move, from the last time I tried to run away. It’s all folded and tucked away, never unpacked, but always lingering. Each move, every run, I sweat as I hoist these brown boxes onto the bed of the truck because I haven’t learned yet how to let them go. Just like my mom’s dusty collection of finger-painted childhood art, I don’t know how to throw them out. I don’t have the time to sort through each and every crumpled piece, so I resolve to bring it all with me.
I have always imagined that if I move my life to a new location, if I attempted to build a home in a different city, the clutter that I have stowed away in those boxes would simply vanish. I would live carefree and confident because I left those stories behind in my childhood bedroom.
They follow you, though. The stories, the insecurities. They won’t stay put. I used those card board boxes as my shelter in my past runaway attempts. I built a fort out of them in the forest and made them my security. It’s funny how the very things that we run away from become the thing we clothe ourselves in when we are new to town and are grasping for something familiar.
This year is different, though. I want my Somewhere. And so the uncomfortable process of unpacking and discarding begins now. Through tears and shouts, I resolve to unpack each and every box. This time, I will choose what belongs in Somewhere and I will rid myself of the rest. These things will not own me or define me any longer. They will not take up space. If I ever want my Somewhere, the place where I belong and am free, this process needs to begin here; here on this familiar ground. Before I make plans to be free anywhere else, I need to be free right here. Here, the boxes will be collapsed and discarded. Here, I belong and am free.