I’ve been packing. Or, rather, unpacking. A great many of the boxes that have been sitting, untouched, in our basement and attic for the past six years were moved here from California, where they also sat, untouched. The boxes contain the kinds of items that serve no real use, but which are difficult to discard; high school yearbooks, letter jackets, outdated guidebooks for San Francisco, Rome, New York. Files of old letters, stories I wrote in college, and psychology textbooks. Junk collected at each of our different jobs. The boxes are mostly labeled “Lisa and Matt -- misc.” It is likely, had things been different, that these boxes would have remained sealed indefinitely. They might have moved with us from place to place, but their contents, their conjoined miscellany, would have remained untouched until someone, perhaps Calder, wanted to see what was inside. Things are not different, though. Things are what they are, and since I am the one packing to move out of this house, it falls to me to finally break the seal on these boxes. It’s my job to sort through, and separate forever, the stuff we’ll never use.
In one of the boxes, in a manila folder full of random correspondence, I found a letter written to me by one of, if not THE, great loves of my life (I know that’s probably supposed to be the person that I married, but in the very clear path of retrospect, it was the one that got away, rather than the one who ran away, who will forever be in my heart). This letter is one of many written to me by this person; it’s not particularly emotive in its tone, nor is it declarative of love or devotion. In fact, it’s rather neutral. What made me stop and struggle to catch my breath was the prophecy it contained. It was written nine years ago, but it completely and utterly describes my life as it is today. Lessons learned. Things lost. The perspicacity of this person has unsettled me time and time again over the years, but this time it finally sunk in. He was right. All along. Perhaps if I had listened, I wouldn’t be here, mired in grief and packing tape.
Richard Ford wrote that “the worst thing about regret is that it makes you duck the chance of suffering new regret, just as you get a glimmer that nothing’s worth doing unless it has the potential to fuck up your whole life.”
How can this kind of magic collect the dust of ordinary existence? How do we let people slip away?
I hope it will come to me.