Packing. There isn't a whole lot more on earth thats more tedious, is there? I generally don't think so. The entire process can be exhausting and frustrating, but also kind of fun too: discovering things you'd forgotten about. The acknowledgment that this ritual means things are changing: you're moving, or traveling, or doing something where you will no longer be inside the status quo. I love that aspect of packing. As I sit here, surrounded by the sundry items that are my life, I can't help but marvel at the difference between this last college move in and my first one, three years ago.
I had a van full of stuff to move into my two person bedroom, in an all girls residence hall. The hall was beautiful - a three story red victorian home, converted for college living. Granite porches and stained glass windows, carpeted stair cases and a real dining room table. I had some plastic cups, tons of school supplies, a bag swollen and heavy with new dancewear (for the first time since I'd started high school), a gift from my Uncle. I had a giant suitcase that fit all - yes, ALL - of my clothing in it. Every stitch. And then a second, small suitcase full of hoodies. I didn't wear any makeup: not a drop. I had only minimally more confidence than I did beauty supplies. I was excited and nervous and ready, ready, ready to go. I had a brand new relationship back home, that was comfortable and exciting at the same time. Even as I kissed him goodbye, I couldn't wait to call him that night. Everything was new. I wanted nothing more than to blend in, to have acceptance in this first public education since kindergarten. To test my mettle against other dancers, to make friends and fit comfortably somewhere. In essence, what I wanted was the same thing I'd been trying to do my entire life: disappear.
Beneath the homework I was sure would drown me. Behind the dress code I still, to this day, strictly wear when others don't. Underneath the guise of being part of the group.
How little prepared I was for a journey that would involve some serious standing out. It's hard to blend in when you're the first person in a small liberal arts college to do something: in my case, be the first person able to double major in our most rigorous programs, dance and theatre. It's difficult to be "just one of the girls," when you're abusive father shows up on campus and scares the residence of your hall, getting himself hauled away by public safety. In some ways, of course, I succeeded. I was never considered the best or the fiercest or the most overwhelmingly technical of dancers in day-to-day classes. Never mind that I sped through level placements, moving every semester instead of every year. Or that several of my finals had teachers in tears. Then one day last year, we had a master class with a famous and well respected teacher/choreographer/performer. He watched the groups dance and called me to the center of the floor. He told me he loved watching me dance, and that I was clearly an underrated, under appreciated, and ignored dancer in our department. . . and that it was my fault. That I needed to stop blending. He was right.
As I sit here on the floor, surrounded by all my things, I realize what a long journey it has been. I have several suitcases now, all devoted to my clothes - not just black yoga pants, plain blue jeans, an assortment of solid color tees and over sized sweaters. There is a raspberry colored coat. A purple satin button down shirt. Words like "teal," and "honey," and "aqua." Materials like "satin," and "lace." Skinny jeans in a bold dark wash. Soft colorful scarves. Things I have, over the past three years, carefully collected and lovingly added to a collection stripped of it's hoodies and over sizedshirts. Mostly. . .
I look at the piled boxes and remember the difference of not knowing who my roommate would be - my assignment changed a mere hours before move in - and the small room (granted it was a beautiful hall, as I've said) I was headed towards. Now I have all the trappings and supplies for maintaining an apartment, as I move into the college-owned apartments down the road from where I go to school. Three roommates - dear friends each - will meet me there, their own lives carefully boxed, bagged, and tagged waiting to blend with mine in a beautiful, chaotic sort of rhythm.
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about everything. . . or if the words I wrote even make much sense. But as I take one final round of clothes and press them into their suitcase I feel as though there is a small goodbye happening. Goodbye to the girl with wide eyes and excited for the chance to blend in and disappear. Your journey was a beautiful one. . . a trying one. An exhausting and sometimes fabulous one. But that journey is coming to a close now.
Let the new journeys begin.