I never realized how messed up this bedroom was. Specs of dust covering the black TV stand lay in a thick layer on the second tier, which in the past three years, I’ve never even touched.
Drips of pink and black paint are on the tile floor from that time I laid on my belly and painted another one of my pieces of abstract art. The gray and white chevron patterned rug lying underneath my coffee table is starting to tear and rip from the tabby playing on it.
The coffee table itself is chipped, little parts of brown are showing through the ocean blue I painted it. I need to repaint it, obviously. I need to throw the rug in the trash, and clean the splatters up with a screwdriver and try to pick it off the floor. I don’t have a need for the TV stand anyway; we’ll be using his, the big black and silver one where his TV which is bigger than mine will rest.
I grabbed some cardboard boxes from the storage unit. I stacked them over the paint spills. I might as well pack the things I don’t need to survive these next weeks: the books I’ve already finished, the photo albums from my high school graduation, the books I have on photography that I never read, and never will. They all go in the box.
I have no use for the guitar I bought at that yard sale two year ago. I never learned to play, but I tried. People who are way more coordinated than me are better off. It gets wrapped in bubble wrap. My movies, ones I’ve had since seventh grade like Moulin Rouge, Harry Potter, and Mean Girls, I don’t need to watch them right now. That part of my life is over. In the box.
My summer clothes, my sandals with the red flowers on them, the bathing suits and string bikinis, the denim shorts, the sunglasses that I spent so many summers wearing, I don’t need them right now. I pack them into the box, tape it shut and label it ‘Summer’. I’ll unpack it in four weeks, when all is different, when this part of my life is over.
Under the pile of books I moved off the shelf is a picture I once, several years ago, took out of a frame. It’s me and my group of friends from high school. We’re all wearing matching pink t-shirts.
S is jumping on my back, mouth gaping open with the biggest grin. A is scrunching her face to make us laugh. L is making a duck face, dark hair falling in front of her forehead. T is smiling, holding up a peace sign. N is front and center laughing. B is behind her trying to squeeze her face into the frame. And then there’s me, holding up S on my back, bending over, my cheeks flushed from laughter.
And I look happy. We all do. We look like we’re going to be best friends forever. We look like this time in our lives will never fade.
I look at that picture, remembering that day like it was yesterday. But that picture was taken seven years ago. And in those seven years, we’re no longer friends. We don’t talk. We don’t Facebook message, that’s if we’re even Facebook friends at all. We don’t stop to think about what had happened, how did we all change, why did we let it happen?
Sure, we can blame life. We can blame that some of us got married. We can blame that some of us moved away. We can blame that some of us lost so much weight that we changed our personality. We can blame that we worked too many hours. We can blame that we went to different colleges, met different people, and just lost touch with those we once spent every waking hour with almost a decade ago. It’s all true.
This is just a typical phase of life. We know it. High school friends don’t typically last forever, but how did we become the generation where that part of our lives is over already? How did we all grow up so quickly?
How can I be here, putting my books, and my childhood, and my life into boxes trying to label them? How can I try to label those parts of my life? That box full of bikinis and shorts – it’s not just summer they represent.
It represents all the times me and my best friend drove to the beach, windows down, AC up, mixed CDs blaring through the stereo and the time we got lost on our way to New York City.
How can that box represent all the times my boyfriends, and my group of friends, stayed the entire weekend at my friends’ beach house? The times we stayed up late, sitting around the campfire and talking about what we wanted out of life. What about the time I snuck out my parent’s house, got in the car with my best friend M and we drove to the beach by ourselves, listening to nothing but the sounds of the waves crashing onto the sand?
That box symbolizes my youth, the fun times in high school, before life turned sour and we all had to become responsible, get jobs, and get apartments of our own. It symbolizes the times when I was so full of dreams without thinking I could fail. It symbolizes thinking I had my entire life ahead of me, and that 25 sounded like a fucking lifetime away.
But it wasn’t.
And suddenly, here I am, packing up my life trying to find a label to describe what is in that box, when the reality is, there’s so much in there that I could ever fit.
Growing up – how did we let this happen?