As a very-soon-to-be grad student embarking on her PhD, I decided to get a place closer to school. This has been the focus of my summer in many ways, as I’ve never lived on my own– coming the closest when I lived in an apartment on campus, in which I could not cook for myself due to fear of cross-contact in the kitchen I shared with 5 other girls.
It’s been a huge year. A year ago in May, I graduated college– a huge accomplishment at the ripe age of 25– marked by my less-than-traditional path, but satisfied that I am finally using every skill I’ve learned. This followed with a new research project, family concerns, the sickness of my grandparents, mom and my moving in with my grandparents to care for them, filling out grad school applications, and mom and I moving out three months later after both Grandma and Deda passed away within 47 days of each other. I got accepted to grad school. We’ve tried to get back to normal. We miss my grandparents everyday. Bereavement counseling followed. And many trips to a chiropractor for severe pain which I estimate was about 60% emotionally motivated, 40% wear and tear from the long, intense days at Grandma’s house. I decided to get an apartment. I planned, saved, bought what I needed. And did a lot of work on my research project.
And it comes down to this: the cleansing process that is organization. And it strikes me how each item has a memory attached. These things– mark the past year, my relationships, my childhood. The perfume I finally threw away. Gap’s Heaven and Dream. That I wore in middle school because it was what my best friend wore too. And they did smell pretty. But 10+ years later, they smell like rubbing alcohol and it’s time we part ways. This is harder than it should be– my childhood best friend died three years ago from a brain aneurysm. I keep the tank top I wore the day after she slept over my house for my 6th grade graduation party. I think we had matching ones, with our favorite character on them. It’s a bit big, but it still fits. I take it out of the tank top drawer and put it with my pajamas. I wear it to bed that night.
There’s the shirts I wore for a particular performance. For my senior picture. For Christmas Eve several years. A pocketbook I’ve had since I was 16 (and haven’t used in years). The tank top I wore for my 21st birthday. The Powerpuff Girl sweatshirt I wore most of 9th grade. They go.
There’s the soft, red t-shirt I’ve had since I took summer classes at Nassau. I wore it last weekend to church. There are lots of summer memories attached to this shirt. Sunny days. Beach days. Summer nights in the parking lot at church talking until the stars come out and you can smell the ocean nearby and everyone is bitten up my mosquitoes. The sundress I wore to my cousin’s wedding. The sundress I wore on my 24th birthday, and many times since. It was my first birthday on campus, “away from home.” I had a take-home final due, but the rest of the day was beautiful– my job made the day special, I had time to lay out on the grass on campus in the sun, and it was my first (and best) birthday spent with my boy. These stay.
There’s something cleansing in this process, this revisiting– the getting rid of makes me able to open my arms to the new. The new sweater, the new dress. I start grad school in exactly ten days. New memories are about to be made.