Perhaps I could have waited until cooler weather, when I could build a fire and toast marshmallows over the burning embers of our history, watching the wind carry the whisper-thin sheets of burning ash in a swirl before losing their flame and soundlessly hitting the ground. But s’mores blackened with the heat of unanswered questions and residual anger did not seem like the most appetizing of desserts. And when I found the box buried in the corner of my closet earlier this evening, all I knew was that I did not want to harbor its contents within my home and heart any longer.
So I shredded almost everything in it.
Sitting on the floor of my office with two large trash bags, I proceeded to tear out pages from journals and feed them into the cross-cutting open maw of my shredder. I rarely paused to read the letters, words, quotes… I didn’t want to get bogged down in the feelings, revelations and speculations that comprised a large part of this life several years ago.
I was surprised by my ability to resist the temptation to revisit the open mystery that was our relationship. Instead, I found myself enjoying the rhythm of feeding the paper, of tearing out staples and watching all of the drama, the hope, the heartache, the frustrations, the resentment and the excuses disappear with a grinding squeal that sounded out in different tones depending on the number of pages and types of paper. If I had some musical talent I’m sure I could have put together a breakup song worthy of YouTube.
Now the rather beautiful wooden box is empty… a physical situation that I’m somewhat glad to say does not mirror my own. I am not an empty vessel, waiting to be filled up by someone else in order to have a purpose. I have held onto a sense of ME, and while I remember our past I refuse to let it guide my responses in my future. After all, baggage is only a burden if you fail to put anything useful in it.
Tonight I did not erase the memory of you, but in shredding the contents of the box I agreed to not relive the things I wish I had done or said differently. To cease to ask the questions that apparently have no answers. But don’t for one moment think that my evening was spent wrapped up in a history that I wish I could rewrite or reignite…
I also cleaned my cat’s hairball stains out of the carpet.