At some point during the life span of this blog I wrote about how the state of my room (AKA a mess assessment….amessment? Yes? No?) was a clear reflection of how things in my life were going. And, actually, perhaps more to the point it was, is, a reflection of how things in my head are going. I don’t mean that in any big way, really. I am a relatively even keeled person. I would say that on a happy-to-sad spectrum I generally reside closer to the former than the latter, with some forays into sadness and a vacation home in anger and disbelief. I would categorize myself as my friend Ashlie described herself, a loud introvert. I had never really heard that term before but the second it came out of Ashlie’s mouth I thought to myself,
yes, that’s me.
Anyway, my room. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you: my room is always a little bit of a disaster. In college a pile of clothes would migrate from my bed to my desk chair and back again depending on which of those things I needed at the moment. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been better about putting my clothes away (although truth be told a bag of clean laundry sits outside the door of my bedroom because I haven’t felt like dealing with it) but still the clutter remains. Shoes litter the floor, piles of New Yorker magazines reside on my desk and coffee table, unopened mail with personal data lies unopened, awaiting an afternoon of shredding. For years my awesome ex-boyfriend kept my mess, and my mood, in check but since he moved away about a year and a half ago things have gotten progressively messier. Both in my head and in my room. I stopped doing the things I have always done by sheer force of will, desire and habit: writing and running. I started keeping to myself more, seeing friends less, allowing my room to become an embarrassing disaster. The worst of it all was The Box.
You see a few years ago me and my roommates, boyfriend included!, moved from the second floor to the third. My landlord was redoing the apartments and the girls upstairs had moved out so we took over the newly renovated space. We all sort of haphazardly packed up our things and carried them up the single flight of stairs to restart our lives in a slightly better version of the place we had been living in for years. At the end of the packing process, I threw a bunch of odds and ends into a big box, figuring I would unpack it and put the things away. That was years ago. The box has remained packed, if you can even call it that, since 2012. Every time I went to deal with it I would be overcome with anxiety. Where does all of this stuff go? What do I do with it? How do I organize it? I would inevitably throw everything back in the box and head out for a run in an attempt to refocus and have another go when I got back. I never had another go. The Box stayed. And then, last week, I had enough. I came into my room with the intention of going through the box, organizing things, putting things in rightful places, feeling accomplished and like having The Box take up this huge swathe of space in my room, and my brain, for the past forever actually had some purpose. Like it wasn’t all for naught. I stood in front of The Box, looked inside, and simply said
Fuck it. Fuck you, Box. I hate you.
I got the garbage can and simply threw everything away.* I threw away the old articles from grad school. The weird candle holders I never used. The picture frames I bought at Bed&Bath in 2002 (saved the photos, though). The broken jewelry. The notebooks. All of that shit that has been causing me anxiety for all this time just gone. I took the garbage out, went back to my room, changed into running clothes and went out for the first run I have wanted to go on for as long as I can remember. And I started thinking about my next blog and my next marathon.
It’s been a long and sad road this past year and a half. And it’s crazy how you don’t even realize you’re on it until one day, you just make a turn and all of a sudden the fog sort of lifts. One day you just go into your room and you tackle some seemingly small project that is somehow the physical manifestation of all of the shit that has beaten you down over the past 19 months and you look outside and the sun is shining and rather than forcing yourself to go out there you want to do it. It’s a crazy thing and I don’t know what did it but whatever it is, fuck am I grateful because this shit — the sadness, the anxiety, the overwhelming feeling that I have been letting everyone down, myself more than anyone else — was getting tired. And was starting to make me feel like I had made some turn away from my old bright self into someone far more muted, someone about ready to burst into tears without reason or warning at any moment. I thought I was the only one who noticed but apparently I was wrong.
A few weeks ago, after visiting my parents for the night, I received the following text message from my father:
Hi, glad you came out yesterday. I missed you. I have to say I am a little worried about you. Seeing you made it easier. I hope you can use this trip as a reassessment period to come back and just be happier. Anything I can do to help let me know. I love you.
And so to my dad and everyone else: I am back. The Box is gone. And now I am going to go out into the world because I want to. And see my friends who I love. And get ready for an awesome fucking adventure through Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. And then, who knows. But I think it will probably be great.
*To be fair I recycled some of it but I felt like that took away some of the drama.