My internet friend (does it matter what type of friend? we have never met in physical proximity or looked at each other in real time, so I signify it as a type of friendship for clarity, for specificity?) R recently wrote a resonant blog post about moving into a new flat with his girlfriend. Recently, Caroline’s (my roommate) best friend moved into her boyfriend’s flat. We discussed the pros and cons of moving into someone’s space rather than finding a space together— holding hands holding sage over a doorway to burn away old encounters to make way for a world of unknown welcome desires.
In R’s post, what stood out, was the softness with which he moved through the memories, not in some grand gesture of removing them from his life, but knowing that they had their time, and granting himself the permission to let them go. The objects don’t need to be in physical proximity for that archive to exist, but that archive does need to expand its boundaries to include a new person & to move with a new person.
I include the whole post because reading an excerpt is wasteful of the experience, even if it doesn’t comply with his fastidious page arrangement.
A Self-Portrait Using Objects I Threw in the Bin
ON SATURDAY I AM (we are) moving out of this flat and into another, within the same building, yes, but larger and with more windows. It is the windows I am delighted by.
I moved into this place eleven months ago but it doesn’t seem so long ago as eleven months. Time moves as it does, and so it goes. It has been quite the year. Much has changed. In preparation for moving out I have slowly been sorting through bits & pieces, clearing drawers and throwing away many of the things I have collected over the years. It is strange to go through the drawers. In my parents’ house – which it is now known as – I would often, through laziness or indecision, simply put objects in these drawers only for them to now be stumbled across once more: letters from family and boys and girls, an untold amount of very bad photographs, small gifts I received but had no use for, cigars I never smoked, maps, posters and promotional flyers, new & used batteries, Allen keys, busted lighters, paintings that I had abandoned or lost interest in, bills, payslips, gig ticket stubs, t-shirts I forgot about, two piano books (sonatas and jazz respectively), about a score’s worth of foreign money (European and American), instruction manuals and birthday cards. Going through it all was something I normally would have, in my usual way, put off from now until forever; I was forced to clear the drawers to make way for things my girlfriend may wish to put in there – for a long time her own possessions have been scattered around the room.
Beside me was a gaping black bin-bag. With a brutality I found most unnatural, I picked up each item, considered it briefly, held it close to my eyes, and stuffed it into the bag (which burped after every swallow). All this time! Vanishing! It was therapeutic as it was sad. Before I tied the bag I contemplated bending down and retrieving the goods but could not bring myself to do it. What would be the use? The bag weighed heavy. I drew the thin corners in and tied them tightly. I carried them down, in the rain, to where the bins were and felt nervous that somebody could go down them. I threw the bag to the back of the farthest bin.
I checked today and the bins had been emptied. All those memories – or at least the stern to which the barnacles of memory attach themselves – are gone.
And now I leave this place. I viewed it just under a year ago on the seventh of September. I was finally inside the flat I had wished to live in for all the years I had taken the train past it. One Saturday my parents and I visited (parking in the carpark of a McDonald’s where I bought something to stave off my hangover, and the sun hazy and thick) and we, all three, fell in love with it. Two days later I put down my name.
It has been my first place and it has treated me well. Though she is sleeping upstairs this very moment – or tossing and turning, if I can hear through one unearphone’d ear – it has always been mine. It is small and its one tall window is my sun. How much I will miss it! Soon it will be empty again. By Sunday night it will be empty again, and clean, untainted by any of my belongings. What will the space be then? Even if I were to stand up right now and remove the rug from the middle of the floor, I would not quite know where I was. The memories are on the rug, as they are anywhere else I choose to look.
I feel sad to leave it behind but excited for all that which lies beyond it, the times that are to come. There are other places, other dates.
For all I express in these words, please understand that I have not packed anything. Everything is still in its right place. I should get away from this keyboard and put it orderly in boxes. I am appalling at packing, excellent at procrastinating, and a devil at putting-off. It is likely that the next time I write here I shall be in our new abode, wriggling into a new writing space and endowing new memories upon new things.