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Stuff

She thinks I’m broken. She could be right…

For a while – several days – I thought I’d lost my wedding ring. I eventually found it, but while I was ringless, I discussed the situation with a friend. She was dismayed, at first by the possibility that I’d lost my ring, and then by my lack of concern.

“It’s your wedding ring,” she said, as if maybe I’d missed the most significant detail of my own story.

“I keep thinking it’ll turn up.”

“What if it doesn’t?”

I shrugged. “I guess I’ll get another.”

For a second, she just stared at me, incredulous. Then she had me mentally retrace my steps, which didn’t help, but did give her something to focus on that wasn’t slapping some sense into me.

She thinks a wedding ring should hold more sentimental value. She thinks I’m broken. She could be right…

I got married in April. Seven months later, on the day before Thanksgiving that same year, we moved from an apartment to a condo. We rented a U-Haul, packed it, cleaned the old place, and arrived at the new one in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning. Our new neighbors were asleep, and we were exhausted. Deciding to unload the truck at a more reasonable hour, we grabbed our cat, a couple of blankets and some pillows, and slept on the floor.

In the morning, the truck was gone. I will spare you the details of my husband’s frantic attempts to convince me that he wasn’t playing a practical joke. I will tell you this. It takes a while to wrap your brain around what it means to be missing everything. When they found the truck a few days later, it was parked outside a dump, empty except for some hangers and an old box spring.

We went to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. They gave us some pots and pans, a few dishes,a grocery bag filled with Tupperware. My mom always has spare Tupperware. That night, we put the clothes we’d been wearing for two days into the washer. We sat on the floor, naked, wrapped in blankets, and watched our clothes spin.

We replaced things little by little, bought, at first, just enough clothes to get us through a week. I threw temper tantrums, hating all the space. I cried for all that was missing. It was worse than if we’d been robbed, because it wasn’t selective. They didn’t just take what could be resold, they took photo albums and shoe boxed memories, yearbooks and journals and a bald, blue-eyed doll I slept with as a baby…

I remember at night, lying awake, making lists of all the stuff we didn’t have anymore. I’d mourn the loss of each thing – a cigar box of bad poetry from my first boyfriend… hundreds of LPs… art projects from elementary school. I think I was a little bit crazy during that time. Grief stricken, angry. Ultimately I had to tell myself that it was just stuff. I said it aloud. Firmly. Over and over again. “We are okay. We still have a roof, each other, our cat. That’s what matters, and the rest is just stuff.”

I learned that lesson well. It’s part of me now – for better or worse – my expectation of impermanence. When the truck got stolen, I learned about endings; I learned to let go. I learned there is no point in holding onto what simply does not exist anymore. I learned that trying to hold onto it makes you crazy, sleepless, angry.

So yeah. It might mean that now I’m a little broken. It might mean that I don’t emotionally attach myself to things like wedding rings and keepsakes… or maybe it just means I know when to let go. I know how to move past endings. I know absolutely that there are beginnings on the other side.

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