There is something about moving out that just makes me sick. It’s like being forced to dissect the contents of your vomit after an entire day of binging. Spending a year, maybe half or less, accumulating: hot pink ashtray, little potted bamboo, metal blue picture frame, yellowed velvet chair marked “free stuff” on the corner. Collect and collect and collect. Push it up, shove it in, swallow it down. The photograph of his tongue on my cheek stuck under a chipped banana magnet on the fridge, the love note shoe box tucked under the couch, dried flower petals, eyelash glued to a post it note.
When I think back on those pleated khakis he used to wear to work, I wonder how I stuck around for so long. A record at fourteen months. Marathon relationship, compared to my routine sprint. Really, by month five I had one foot in the grave, but I thought maybe I should grow up, give it a shot. I don’t like sleeping alone. Somehow he wore me down with his “You’re always running away” bullshit. He thought he had me pegged, pinned down, suffocated- whatever. I thought I had him on the verge of actually doing something with himself. How dare he call me “Muse.”
He walked around the place with the guitar strap slung across his shoulder, guitar on his back. Pacing to and fro, each step a new note in his masterpiece. He would stop to watch me watching him, grin and scribble something down in the notepad he pulled from his back pocket. Strum a few chords. He even wrote a few good ones. Cooped up in a hotel room with the heart shaped jacuzzi across from the bed, he sang to me our six month anniversary. Tears rolled down my face bursting tiny suds in the bathtub where I lay shriveled. For the moment, it seemed romantic, though I had already swallowed down several glasses of Two Buck Chuck. After I rinsed off, we got dressed and went to dinner at Bennigan’s. We had a few more cocktails and fought out of boredom. I poked around at my Turkey O’Toole while, without once looking up, he cleared off his usual: cheeseburger, medium well. I vaguely recall slapping his face before the Brownie Bottom Pie. We split the bill and returned to our king bed, enough room for Grover Cleveland between us as we slept.
I am straying- this isn’t about him or the way he slumped so low into the couch cushion after work with his red rimmed eyes open just enough to see the TV. There is no time for reflecting on old routines. Come home, crack open a Pabst, TV on, lights off. Kiss- no tongue. Touch, then lick. standard. missionary. position.
This is about the removal of my Hers towel from the space now considered His. Stripping all things that look sound smell like me from this shoebox with a bathroom. Emptying spaces.
All I can think as I look through this shit (it really is shit) is why did I ever save this and where the hell will I put it now? Get some storage space for the alien figurine he gave from the quarter machine at the flea market? The picture he drew of me in that shitty hotel room in Budapest? The mix tape he made me of all of the songs he liked but I hated? Should I hang on to the recipe his mother gave me to prepare the chicken” just the way he likes it?”
Where does this stuff belong?
It’s not that I am sentimental. Fuck. I am not sentimental. But might someone else want this stuff? It’s not garbage: a dirty tissue, a banana peel, or a credit card application. Does GoodWill accept broken home donations?
Eight times in five years… you would think I had this down by now. Toss and pack, box and tape, get gone. Nope. Not me. Each time. Same thing.
The first time it was understandable. I still keep Aaron’s letters wrapped in a silk pillowcase under the mattress at my mother’s house. But Aaron was different: passionate, creative, beautiful. Scrubbing them raw, he could never get all of the paint off of his hands. Even if the skin was clean, there was always a trace of thick colorful oils under his nails. More of a man than anyone I have lived with since, and he smelled like wildflowers and cedar. It was easy to want an aftertaste of that. I even saved his scrap paper. But since him, they have all been disposable.
My friends call the guy with the place on 2nd Ave. “Helmet” because he had funny shaped hair and none of us remember his name. I do recall his three sets of nose hair clippers and the mildewy smell in the heap of wet towels he always left on the floor. I remember staring at his hair while he slept, plotting out how to shave it off without waking him. Would the loud buzzing and vibration on his skull require a little Ambien in his mashed potatoes?
I always found walking away from the relationship to be the easy part. Like peeling off a bulky wool sweater on that first warm March afternoon.
But the tediousness of moving out? Kill me! Am I being too dramatic? Childish?
I should be allowed to fuss over something. I didn’t even bitch that he took the cat.
I tell myself that moving out is like burying one life to start another. Solidifying the split- the funeral. How much do you want haunting you in the next life? Here I am, sitting in a pile of it all. Across the room is a bowl where we collected matchbooks from every trip we took. Why did I ever need a matchbook to preserve a memory, when I could use this whole bowl of them to incinerate them all?
Meghan Lennox began writing on any surface that would support a #2 pencil at a young age. While teaching high school English, she began studying creative writing at the New School before abruptly abandoning herself for a career in film. After working in commercial casting and indie film in NY, she headed to LA to expand her career. There, Lennox cast several features for Sony and produced indie feature 'Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town.' Most recently, she wrote/ directed her first short film, 'Show Pony' starring Britt Lower and Clara McGregor. She has finally picked the pencil back up.