My friend C’s death came on the heels of the two others, and was more sudden and heartbreaking in its arrival. As her closest friend, it fell to me to take the coroner’s call, to call friends and pass on the news and to clean out her apartment. I was joined in this last endeavor by a community of friends I will forever be grateful to. The work was quick and done so I could get on to the heavier task of grieving. Most of the tangibles were given away or donated, but the memory bits – journals, photos, baby clothes, artwork, all the deeply personal bits – came home with me. Estranged from her family, there was a great deal of personal information I knew C wouldn’t want them to see. I needed to sort through it all before I sent it back. Shortly after C’s passing, another friend was diagnosed with cancer and I simply couldn’t deal with it all. I put the boxes in the garage and I shut the door, figuratively and literally. That was 2 years ago.
As a part of letting go of this house, I knew I would need to go through C’s boxes. I’m sloughing off my skin here, and shedding this grief is part of that process. So yesterday, with a bottle of whiskey and a fire pit at the ready, a friend and I set to work consolidating what was to be mailed, removing what was too private, cooing over baby photos and crying over random bits of all of it. When the family box was packed, we moved to the fire pit and began the work of setting fire to years and years of her sadness. As each page burned, it felt like lifting a weight from her psychic shoulders. No more wondering, no more self-loathing, no more confusion, no more pain. The last thing I burned was a piece of canvas on which she’d painted a serene water/sunrise scene. It was bright blues and gentle yellows and a hint of pink. I set her there in my mind as I watched it go.
SansLux is not just about consumerism. It’s also about releasing the tangible ties that bind us to pain. It’s about embracing impermanence. Mine. Yours. Ours.
Three bins were the last remnants of C’s life on earth. At the end of the day, what was left filled only a small box. But inside that box is the promise that she had as a child, before the world caught her up and swept her under. And in the fire that burned, burned the pain that came when that promise was broken. And in between is where I live, carrying with me all the mixed beauty of this daring, devious, damaged and loved being that was my friend. And so I don’t have much of her left to carry in my hands — but I am by no means emptier for it.
Love you, C. So much.]]>
That said, SansLux has never been far from my mind, even though I haven’t been actively blogging. Truth is, it’s become so much of my mind that I haven’t had the energy to put to words what the rest of me is putting to action. (This is a strange turn of events for the writerly likes of me.) I have taken a break on giving up the little things since Week 5. However, in exchange for this little kindness to myself, I have been preparing to give up much larger things. These things are my house, 90% of its contents, my privacy, and ultimately my job, employer-paid health insurance, the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed and possibly my country, family and friends.
I have been grappling with concepts like “responsible adult behavior” and “the sensible thing to do.” I have been struggling with the idea of going ‘backwards’ financially — renting instead of owning, shirking stable employment in a toxic environment for the scary waters of freelance and self-employment. I have been considering a return to student life, school loans and an uncertain future in a possibly dying field. Instead of focusing on preparing myself for lucrative employment, I have been shifting my focus towards preparing myself with a greater toolset for activism. I have been looking away from the illusions of future safety and security and towards to the realities of present-tense, ethical and joyful living — a trade-off which inevitably hits one directly in the wallet.
Today a friend came over and we tackled my garage — shifting, sorting, stacking and boxing. I freecycled art supplies to a man who works with differently-abled adults. I sold a huge bookshelf to two women for their newly forming mental health clinic. I let go of belongings that represented the beginnings of finding myself as a holistic human being. The keep pile (as opposed to the dump pile and the sell pile) is minuscule by contrast. I am sloughing off years and years of belonging — it to me, me to it, whatever ‘it’ may be.
Most of the furniture items in my house have already sold, even though they are still here. Friends kind enough to wait until I move have already tagged these items with their names. I am surrounded by things that are no longer mine, or things that soon won’t be. When I move, I will own only what fits in my bedroom and a few boxes of memories that will be stored graciously at my Mother’s home.
Tomorrow my living room rug will sell. Tomorrow, I will go through my shed and pull out boxes and bags of luxuries I don’t even look at, much less use. I will put these to use again in the lives of those around me. And next weekend, I will go through each room of my home and do the same. Weekend 3, I will sell my life via the grandest yard sale I’ve ever had. What’s left will be donated or saved for one more sale. And then on April 5th, my house itself will go on the market.
When it sells, I will join a shared living space with minimal cost (and minimal privacy/luxury.) There is already talk of chickens and gardening, greywater collection and community dinners. I will refocus my efforts towards piecemeal income and the success of my budding, green business. When I am confident that I can sustain myself, I will leave my newly toxic, misogynistic day job (Joyfully!!!!) and focus my efforts towards the larger, scarier prospect of leaving my country, my family and my friends in 2011.
In the meantime — each day, each piece of property parted with, each bit of skin shed is leaving me pink and raw and open. Each breath of wind gives me goosebumps, each patch of sun is the universe giving me its jacket, each drop of rain is a sweet kiss on my shoulder — and I’m walking, hand-in-hand with what’s next like I trust it. Which I do.
More to come.]]>