Several days of spending several hours unpacking box after box of my life has given me a lot of time to contemplate the changes I have made, both recently and over the course of my life accumulating all this crap. I've found it to be a bittersweet time. A time of lingering grief mixed with relief and even a little excitement.
I'm adjusting to the shift from an academic-centered life to the illness-centered life as symbolized by my replacing the thesis material that I usually keep in the portable file on my desk with folders of Social Security and HUD paperwork. Accepting that since I don't have as much storage space in this apartment, boxes of my old Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew flashcards and textbooks, as well as notes from undergraduate courses can probably find a new home in my mother's storage shed as they will not be readily needed anytime soon. Unpacking novels first and placing them on the most convenient shelves where my Middle East section would have been before. Indeed, those books are still in their boxes waiting until I have the time, energy and money to get another eight-foot plank of particleboard.
But I have unpacked gardening and craft books that remained unpacked in my last apartment. As a student I never had time for them, especially as I was so sick I hardly had time to even be a student. But now, well, when I'm feeling good, I can make a new lampshade or plant a winter container garden if I want to.
And that's when I realized I was so relieved to finally not be a student anymore. Despite all the snide comments I'd hear from people that I was becoming a "professional student," it was not a profession I chose. I wanted to be done. To move beyond the ambivilance that comes with being a student to the permanence of being a professor. No, I didn't end up becoming a professor, but I am done with being a student (at least for the forseeable future). I have the stability one lacks while in school. Which is funny in a way because school was always what provided stability throughout my chaotic childhood (or lack of one) and in having to give it up, I was terrified I would lose that precious structure it brought to my life. But, you know, structure can be so overrated.
There are still a few more boxes to go through, more remnants of my old life to remind me of what it was like to be on the academic fast track. But now there's enough room in this new apartment to live the life of novel-reading and domestic contemplation my illness has brought.
I feel my body letting go of light
drawn to the wisdom of a harvest moon.
I feel it welcome the lengthening night
like a lover in early afternoon.
My dreams are windfall in a field gone wild.
I gather them through the lengthening of night
and when they have all been carefully piled
my body begins letting go of light.
Indian summer to leaf-fall to first frost
the memories that were carefully piled
become the dreams most likely to be lost.
My dreams are windfall in a field gone wild
now that memory has abandoned them
now that Indian summer, leaf-fall, first frost
have become the same amazing autumn
skein of those dreams most likely to be lost.
I feel my body letting go of light.
I feel it welcome the lengthening of night,
the windfall of dreams that have long been lost
to Indian summer, leaf-fall, and the first frost.
-- Floyd Skloot