[Un]packed*

More than a decade ago now, I lived for a year in Las Vegas. I hated everything about it. To this day, if anyone asks me about Vegas, I’ll tell them: “it’s great for a weekend, but anything beyond that, and you’ll start to feel your soul seeping out of your pores and dissolving like sweat.” There was no naturally occurring grass. There were no real trees. Almost every person in Vegas is a transplant from somewhere else, and you can’t help but question their motives for staying because after you’re there for ten minutes, it becomes apparent that there isn’t a single person in the vicinity who isn’t possessed of a laundry list of vices and/or psychoses. I’m a Midwesterner; I needed trees and grass and people who could at least pretend to be decent.

I lived in two houses during my year of hell, and although I hung a wall full of family pictures in one of them and crocheted a king sized blanket in the other, somewhere inside I knew that I was better served to keep the best parts of myself packed away, unexposed to the harsh conditions of either the desert heat or my undeniably transitional, escapist and ill-advised relationship.

It didn’t help that there never seemed to be room for me in our lives. When we moved into the second house, I had to move the ex’s stuff out of the closet in order to put my things in. It’s a unique feeling, folding another woman’s clothes into boxes.

When I left Las Vegas a few months later, I had to lift the box lids to identify which things were hers and which were mine.

My short-term mother-in-law stood at the door with me just before we departed on the morning I went back to Illinois. She hugged me and told me she hoped that I’d someday find what I was looking for. I remember just hoping that one day I’d stop moving packed boxes of god knows what back and forth from one side of the country to the other. I knew I was a homebody even then. A homebody and a nester, actually–living out of boxes is against my nature.

It’s almost fifteen years on, and I can say with a great deal of certainty that I’ll never again allow myself to remain in a place (or a relationship) where I feel compelled to keep who I am packed away and hidden from whoever might be looking…myself included. Life is way too short to be dishonest about something so fundamental. Unpack, I say. Unpack and smile and revel and remember and live while the livin’s good.

*This post was written in response to  the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt.

4 thoughts on “[Un]packed*

  1. Cheese & Rice! I’ve known you for that long?!

    I have witnessed (from afar, sure) the growth in you over these years. I love how comfortable you now are in your own skin. You’ve come a long way, baby!

    1. And it’s actually been much longer than that; it seems like you had just had Mel. So yeah…some of us have been doing this online thing for a while! Have you had your 20 year onlineversary yet? Mine is this year—hard to believe I started keeping a journal online that long ago. But the more time that passes, the more I wish I’d done it up like Bev (funnytheworld.com) and written something every day. My aging memory could use the help!

  2. Here’s to staying unpacked — and out of Las Vegas. I never lived there, but felt exactly the same about even spending more than any given 5 minutes in the airport. And online journals are just one more thing to add to other notes on your travel through the universe: handy but not essential. Take it from someone who’s been jotting down irrelevancies and writing worthwhile (hopefully) essays for the better part of my close to 87 years on the planet — on note pads, typewriters, computers, whatever. Cyberhugs from San Francisco

    1. Honestly, it’s more that I wish I didn’t have such an on-again-off-again relationship with writing in general. There are entire years where I don’t have a single thing written down—either it was jotted down in a notebook that was summarily tossed or it was lost in some website deletion. My mom keeps a notebook next to her at all times and writes down things my brothers and I say alongside her own story ideas and profound things she hears on television or reads in books. Admittedly, this seems like the solution for me as well, although I have no doubt that my beloved family would delight in poking fun at the increasing similarities between us if I did.
      About your essays: for what it’s worth, I very much enjoy your writing. I don’t know how you do it, but you always manage to discuss important (and even controversial) things with kindness. Needless to say, I could use a touch of that in my own writing!

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