April 30, 2012 – 40 Days
It’s hard to believe that this time last year my friends Jill and Jen were helping me truck my couches over to a thrift store, a guy was picking up my piano which I’d sold for thirty pieces of silver, and I was frantically breaking my bed frame apart (with a hammer and some ineffectual jumping) and trying to maneuver that and the mattress downstairs on my own and stuff it all into the back of my Toyota to go dump behind a mattress store (with their permission). These were the last of the big things and they’d seemed insurmountably huge and unget-riddable. I was way past the “What in the hell are you doing, girl?” stage and into straight up adrenaline panic. I had to be completely out of my house by May 1st so the new tenant could move in. I didn’t know if I could pull it off. All I saw around me was STUFF. How did I still have all this stuff after I’d sold so much, given away so much, thrown out so much?But, in the end, the place was cleared out and cleaned up. I even had ten minutes or so to sit on the bare carpet and feel a little emotional before I locked the door behind me for the last time. To say goodbye to the house that had been my very own. To bid farewell to all the memories painted on the walls of my mind; the ones that threw a smile on my face, the hard times that had made me better (faster, stronger). To blow a kiss goodbye to the mountains that I loved. To try not to cry when I hugged my friends goodbye—for now? for forever?
“There is always something to miss, no matter where you are,” Sarah said, in Sarah, Plain and Tall. All that we leave behind in order to try on a new adventure.I’d do it all over again.
Now I find myself nearing a similar situation. I’ve got forty days (biblically sounding enough) left in Peru. I sit here at my ironing board desk listening to the sounds of Lima; the zooming whishes of cars, their honks, their beeps, the parrots, the birds, the sibilant clicking of a sprinkler, the erratic clacking of the front gate opening and closing, someone’s IM notifications, a telephone ringing, my roommate’s voice, a knife thudding against a cutting board, the whirring of some distant machine, my fingers hitting the keys. And I wonder if I’ll miss the noise.I doubt it, but I know which memories I’ll set on the windowsill of my mind. I’ve got them lined up. The freedom I crave, the sunshine I love, the nearness of the ocean, the freshness of the fruits and vegetables, the thrill of not knowing what will happen when I pass through the apartment gate out into the city—all these things I’ve had. Being here afforded me the opportunity to focus on writing in a way that was never possible for me before. I have a contented sense of accomplishment regarding the book I’ve been laboring over, the stories I’ve written, the rejections I’ve received, and the interactions I’ve shared. I have new people to call friends. I’ve got an expanded bubble of world experience; soapy and slightly purple around the edges as it may be.
This last year has been like the passing of a flock of these little green Peruvian parrots; noisy, raucous, and quick. I don’t doubt that the next forty days won’t speed by, but I do know for sure that they’ll be as full and wonderful and agonizing as the days that have gone before.I’ll throw out the clothes I’ve worn holes in. I’ll pass on the books I’ve read. I’ll tuck my memories between soft things, fold them gently up and pack them into bags.
And then I’ll wander, joyfully wander, until someplace calls me home again.