Monday, August 8, 2011

Return to Nomadism

What to keep and what to leave behind? Once again, the same objects make the cut: a chef's knife, camping gear, porcelain tea cups. And more. Too much more. For the past twenty years, my parents' house has become the repository of my lives lived. As I undergo the three Rs of this nomadic existence--reorganizing, reevaluating, reducing--I discover a woven bracelet from an orphaned child in Guatemala, a golden locket from my deceased grandmother. Nostalgia prevents me from becoming too ruthless. I had hoped to fit everything into my antique steamer trunk but now I realize my storage dreams were too practical.

The latest set of possessions has driven with me across British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and a large swath of Ontario. They have left their six-month repose in Lake Cowichan to await sentence in my parents' back shed. Some of them will travel with me on AC 0001 later this month bound for Hokkaido, Japan. Again--what to keep and what to leave behind?

You'd think someone who has moved twenty times in as many years would find this process simple. It isn't. Nothing makes sense anymore when you're dealing with so many years of memories spanning the globe and the heart. A picnic basket from Port Clements. An English mixing bowl. A pile of letters from S├ębastien. Everything pleads its case. I can see why some people never move. It would be easier to buy stackable storage units and never look inside.

But inside I look, and there it is. The Garfield book, the drawing from my niece, the first poem I ever wrote. A photo of me when I was seven. Had my skin really been so flawless?

The return to nomadism has its price. I must accept that I am that girl of seven, sixteen, twenty-five--that girl who is now a forty-year old woman still storing stuff at her parents' house. She has travelled all over the world, she has experienced great love and great sorrow. Every object tells its tale and she listens. But then she must move on.