What is your most beloved possession? This question always breaks my heart.
I hear those words and a montage of memories plays in my head against my will: the endless zoo of stuffed animals I kept as a child, not to play with, but to collect. They each had names, and personalities, and I would line them up every night on the bottom bunk, on the mattress my mother called a “taco shell” but I had a melt down when she tried to throw it out. The bed was eventually tossed during the first move, but my mother graciously allowed me to keep the animals.
She tried to explain that they would make some other child happier if I could just let them go, but I was 12 years old and we were moving to an island in the middle of the ocean, away from every person and every place I had ever known, and I couldn’t bear to lose one more thing. So we boxed them all up, and I wept as I shut them away in heavy boxes, and said goodbye to all their little faces.
The house in Hawaii was so much bigger, but somehow had less space. Hannah and I had to share a room again, and our closet was tiny; so the babies had to go in storage below the house. Eventually, I forgot about them - out of sight, out of mind. Until one night in monsoon season, when the whole backyard flooded, and water ran up to the porches. The next morning we peeled away the damage one soggy scrap of cardboard at a time. That’s when I saw them again: my menagerie was drenched, those boxes full of childhood were drowned. There was no use sending them to a thrift store, my orphans were goners. I should have let them go when they could’ve made someone else happy. I still haven’t forgiven myself for that.
When I graduated college, I had made plans to move across the country with this boy. My parents were also moving, from one castle in France to another, and they were tired of lugging around their kid’s shit. It made sense, they were in a new chapter of their lives, and wanted to downsize. But just as I was beginning my adult life, I was suddenly burdened with every childhood belonging I had left. I couldn’t take them with me, so they went into the boy’s father’s basement, somewhere way up north. Last I checked, they’re still up there.
A few years later, I was kicked out of my sister’s home. It was abrupt and it wasn’t, it made sense and it didn’t. I left behind as much as I could, out of spite. That’s when I moved in with K, my drunk ass, two suitcases, and the backpack I had left. That only lasted a month. I left J’s in the morning while she was at work, but I had to leave K’s in the middle of the night, before he could come back to stop me. I got back the suitcases, but only half of what was in them.
I have left behind so, so many things. I lost that leather Harley Davidson jacket I saved up for on eBay, with the embroidered roses, that I bought for my 17th birthday. I lost that cool drawing of the girl eating the starfish, that I tore out of one of my sister’s weird art magazines. I lost my Steinbeck collection that I never read, I lost all the Buffy seasons on DVD, and I have definitely lost my birth certificate. I lost my virginity in Burnaby, I lost my last name in South Bend, and I lost my mind in Colorado Springs.
I have left trails of my belongings behind me like breadcrumbs to nowhere, because I have never really belonged anywhere. Traveling between the kingdom and the witch’s hovel, I have no space for possessions. If my arms were full, how could I hold your hand? Or your face? Or a beer?
And that word: possessions. To possess something… objects have always had personalities to me. Sometimes better ones than people. But things don’t stick around forever, anymore than people do. The kindest thing to do is let them go when it’s time. Don’t leave them in a basement to drown; they deserve better. The ones who want to love them are waiting.