Gone South

Groovy art by an unnamed Cooper Middle School student in a public display.
Groovy art by an unnamed Cooper Middle School student in a public display.

They took everything. Paperback books I’d read with heavily creased spines. Frying pans. The cutlery I understood, and the mysterious and profound ladles and paring knives I could never master putting away properly. Books I’d meant to read and still might. Pictures on walls of thinner, younger people we had been. Books I’d meant to read and never would. A soccer ball I’d only kicked twice. They shoved all of it into a parade of boxes that drifted out the door and around a corner and down a large service elevator and into a moving truck.

I looked into the space that had been our lives for two years in New York City. It seemed smaller with everything gone. Like the universe collapsing on itself. When you take every stick of furniture out of an apartment, you would think the apartment would seem larger. But that apartment shrunk to the size of a small walk-in closet. Did we take turns breathing in there? How did we manage it? I couldn’t figure it out.

Because we’d been living in an apartment the size of a walk-in closet for two years, we had a small storage facility. It was filled with boxes of stuff we didn’t need but couldn’t bear to surrender. Somewhere in there were some rolls of film on disposable cameras that will never be developed. About seven journals I started to keep and stopped keeping. About 25 empty plastic bins that I was once sure I had to have.

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Gone South