What started in the bathroom has been spreading. Yesterday, the business of change overthrew a pile of crushed dreams in the corner of the kitchen that has gathered much dust. Stacks of receipts for closed bank accounts, letters from the court, change of relationship forms, and unused death certificates have lied where they fell after completing their last call of duty. Now, untouched for probably more than a year, these papers had become a pile of pins and needles that I occasionally ran my hand through but mostly just avoided. As of today, that pile is gone and its contents appropriately sorted and filed in the filing cabinet under “Crap That Sucks.”
While I was meddling in that area of the kitchen, I took down five pictures of Maggie that I had taped up to the tile years ago. In some of the pictures, she was cuddling Nurse Jolie’s new-born daughter Anya making loving baby faces I’d never get to see as she held our own new-born children. Another picture was a favorite that she had given me to keep in my briefcase as I traveled. Her glowing smile reminded me of happier, more-innocent days. All those pictures are packed away now and that wall looks bare.
The real challenge, however, was the non-descript pile of papers stuffed back in the corner. These little landmines were about 20% of the total clutter but about 90% of the total explosive power. There was just no way to handle this pile of razor blades without bleeding. But I’m now in the business of change. Sometimes change is hard. So I dove in and bled all over the place. Now those papers are somewhere different and less overt and one day I’ll put them somewhere else a little farther away. Perhaps just moving them (and likewise slicing into those scabbed-over wounds) dulled those little razor blades just a little bit so that the next time I move them they won’t cut me quite so badly.
It’s an odd feeling, doing this. Yes, I feel sad but I also feel a sense of cleansing or of refreshing. I don’t feel like I’m betraying Maggie and that’s the best thing. I really thought I’d be struggling with that but that specific feeling is conspicuously absent and its absence is, well, welcome. In fact, I feel less like I’m putting away and more like I’m making room.
(As I type this I’m sitting in Starbuck’s in downtown Austin. It’s busy and loud and crowded. After I typed that last sentence about making room, my fingers remained perched above the keys and the little cursor blinked on the right side of the period encouraging me to continue. Suddenly, the music paused, the crowd inexplicably got silent and the barista said quite clearly and loudly to some anonymous customer “Sometimes you gotta move on.” I suppose messages are everywhere if you just pay attention.)
On with the business of change.