Excess Baggage

My furniture arrives tomorrow. It’s been four months since I saw my bed. My pots and pans. The picture of my mother and grandmother from almost fifty years ago. How do I feel about my duvet and Christmas ornaments and pictures and Penny the Giraffe (my first stuffed animal) arriving tomorrow?

I’m … relieved, mostly. I won’t feel like a visitor anymore. I do, in some ways, still feel like a visitor. Even though I’ve now lived in Wellington for three months. There’s still so much that feels foreign to me. There are still so many nuanced cultural cues that I just don’t get. I have a lifetime to learn them, though. This is my home now. I now live in New Zealand. I am no longer a visitor.

But then there are the earthquakes. I have been incredibly unnerved by the Christchurch earthquake. I don’t want to feel what a ‘real’ earthquake feels like–the tremor was enough for me. I don’t want to see my things smashed to bits. I don’t want to wonder about how I’m going to get to safety. I don’t want to go through yet another earthquake safety drill. I don’t want the Earth to drop out from underneath me.

I suppose that’s what’s it’s really about. When strangers unpack my life from its neat, little boxes, suddenly everything becomes a lot more real. I am going to have to–once and for all–embrace the possibility of an earthquake.

The weight of it can be overwhelming. If you let it. I suspect you understand that I’m not just talking about the weight of my mid-century buffet. Or the road rising up and cracking in two. The heaviest baggage I have is what’s inside of me. Sometimes, it’s the most inflexible part of me, too. That’s what I’m afraid will cause me to falter, should the Earth drop out from underneath me. I’m not alone in that feeling, I don’t think.

So back to the realness of it. Back to where my furniture is going to go. Back to whether I can adequately earthquake-proof my stuff. My life.

No. I can’t. I never can. I never could. Instead, I’m focusing on placing the buffet just so against the living room wall; hanging pictures of Savannah on my wall; figuring out the best way to commingle my stuff with T’s stuff so that, eventually, it’s just our stuff.

I’m looking forward to all of the packing boxes leaving tomorrow. Hopefully, all of that excess weight and baggage will leave in the packing van in which only some of it arrived. And I’m looking forward to knowing that I’ve never been just a visitor.

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