Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Packing Up the Past

I'm sitting here, surrounded by boxes with a cup of tea in my hand, thinking about how much STUFF I have to do over the next few weeks and months. I have to get this room packed, so I can move on to the next room, and then the next, until we finally move and then I have to unpack all of this stuff, reorganize, and then adjust to a new home and setup. I've been cleaning out as I go, throwing out what's trash, donating what I can, and saving only that which needs to be saved.

As I've been going through everything, I've run across a few items that I forgot I had. It's so funny to me that I forgot. Only a few years ago those items felt like everything. I had the benefit (or curse) of reuniting with my natural family during the digital age. Most of those first pieces of communication were electronic. It was wonderful because it meant for the most part instant gratification. I could read the latest email the second it was delivered to my inbox, mere seconds after it was written. I could pull up the photos that were attached with minimal effort wherever I was with my phone. In this world of texting and chatting, I had access, something that I'd waited my entire life for. And then one day, almost overnight, it was all gone.

In the aftermath, I realized that almost everything I had was electronic. I had almost nothing that was tangible or that I could hold in my hands as proof it all existed. I decided to change that, so I had all my emails printed in bound books. I don't have every email, and eventually I'd like to update the collection (because at this point it's a collection), but I have the bulk of them, with the important stuff. I also have printed pictures, my non-identifying paperwork, and the letters that my natural mother sent me with her handwriting on the envelope. I throw envelopes away, but not this one.

I keep these tangible books and mementos in a box that I bought at a craft store. It looks like a book but it's really a box. I thought it would look nice in my closet, it wouldn't get mixed up with anything else, and I can clearly tell what it is. I remember putting everything in there, and what a project it was. It really meant the world to me when I first put everything together. I went so long in my life with nothing, just questions with no answers, that to actually have something to hold onto meant the world to me. And I packed it away in a box and haven't thought about it in a long time.

Going through my things and deciding what to keep and what to throw/give away has showed me how everything fits into my new life that I've created for myself over these last few years. I finally feel like I'm "there", living the life that I want instead of the life that others choose for me without my consent. And that box will have it's own place in the new house. My past is important to me and will always have a place in my home. I'm a firm believe in that you need to understand the past to move forward. So I will keep the books and the pictures, remember how much they meant to me then, and how they will always mean something to me, just maybe not in the same context.

Someday if I have children, that box might mean something to them. It might not. Who knows? Either way, I've managed to preserve some family history, even if it's just a few books with questions and answers. It's not a relationship, but it's a link to our family history, something to hold on to, as we move forward as a family and people.

I still have a lot of boxes to pack and a lot of decisions to make. At least this room will be done soon. And then the next. And then the next after that. I'll keep moving forward, the way that I always do. It's easy to move forward when you know what's behind you!