Patty and I have spent the last three days packing. Our apartment lease is up tomorrow, and our home won't be finished for a couple more weeks, so we're moving in with my parents until then. She is currently watching Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence debate the sexual orientation of their dead father. I am currently sprawled across the couch, fingers to the keyboard, thinking about boxes.
They are so convenient, these boxes. Along the wall from our front door and across the kitchen counter, several boxes are stacked in even rows, edges held in perfect angles with shiny, tough tape. We did our best to keep the boxes coherent; one is all china and glassware, another is all books, yet another has a pencil, a fortune cookie, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and socks without pairs (so maybe we didn't do so well). We do this a lot, I think; we compartmentalize sections of our lives, of ourselves, only that never really works so we end up in a jumbled mess of scattered crap, immobile, waiting for someone to pick us up, open us, and put us back together again.
I've always hated moving. If anyone ever asked me what my pet peeves were I would always respond 1) moving and 2) moving. Being 6 foot 1 and 250+ pounds in a Filipino family means that whenever there is some heavy lifting to be done, you eventually get a call. Maybe that's not it. Maybe my hatred for moving comes from its apparent pointlessness. By an informal count, I've lived at 14 different addresses in my 34 years of life. Each time I have tossed every piece of me into boxes, put them in a bed of a truck, and reopened them at a new location only to pack them again either months or years later. Each time, I'd pull off the tape, tear open the folds in the hope that something else - no, someone else - would be there, someone different, someone who had his stuff together.
Patty and I laugh often about how our new house will be so empty for awhile. And yet as I stare at the 30 plus boxes - not to mention the garbage bags, luggages, and backpacks filled ith stuff we're not quite ready to give up - I wonder how could that be? Everything is so full, so heavy. Each box bulges to the point of spillage. Surely we can fill a house up with our stuff, make it feel lived in, make it feel like home.
Only that's not what makes something a home, right? It's something else, something that can never be found in a box. And it's that thing - love - that makes this time feel different. Don't get me wrong, living with my family, my friends, my cousins, there was always love, but this is different. This time, these boxes aren't just filled with my stuff. It's our stuff. Yu-Gi-Oh cards sitting on top of Banana Republic skirts. A basketball wedged against a Victoria's Secret bag filled with makeup. Faulkner making friends with middle school grammar books.
Patty has gone to bed. Martin Lawrence and Chris Rock are turned off, the ceiling fan is spinning, and I'm taping one more box together. There's a canvas of white tulips in there, a cooking pan, poker chips, a box of basketball cards, lovey-dovey birthday cards we've written each other. I will always hate flowery art, cooking, and corny Hallmark cards, but at least I no longer hate moving.