I have been doing a great deal of packing lately.
Some of it has been done with great excitement and great anticipation.
Some of it has been done with profound sadness and much stifling of tears.
Packing is one of life's true paradoxes. We want to transition to different experiences and exotic locales, but we can't seem to accomplish that task without dragging copious amounts of "stuff" along for the ride. We accumulate, we hoard, we collect, and we stockpile believing that we will need it all someday, but in actual fact we use but a small fraction of our accrued shit. (Check out the brilliant George Carlin's take on "Stuff" which I have included at the bottom of this post.)
There is something about this paraphernalia that gives our lives balance and meaning. We rescue old and faded photographs from the back of a drawer, knowing that we can't bear to toss them in the trash for fear of forgetting. We rescue baking supplies and recipes so that we might recreate that which can no longer adequately be produced. But we so very desperately want it to be, so we pack them away. We compartmentalize. We move forward while one foot remains firmly embedded in the past.
When we journeyed to the Southern Home at the end of December, it was done in haste and with escape from misery in mind. There is no question that I was running away and I packed the way a 5 year old might if he was planning his getaway. There was no thought, no planning. Just a "get me out of town" mentality to go with some clothes, some toys, and my passport.
Packing to come home has been a very different experience. There is careful calculation and examination of what it all means. This place has always been my oasis, my haven, my retreat. But as I prepare to return to Northern climes, I find myself not simply packing tangible items like clothing, but also fond memories of this locale that has now been irrevocably changed for me. It is still my Southern Home, but it is a little less idyllic because she is no longer here to share it.
I pack to come home. I pack to move forward. I pack to remember.