The Zen of Packing
Packing a House in February
and Learning to say Amen
by Joanna ES Campbell
She spends as much time not packing as she does packing. It’s an enormous undertaking – staring into space for hours, contemplating trips to Lowes for boxes, tape, and bubble wrap.
Every act requires touch. Interaction with each item is inescapable, whether placed in a box or added to the pile for Goodwill. She moves in waves, grasping the stories made of ceramic and glass, trying to wrap them carefully, packing thoughtfully, but after two hours, her hands are weary with images. It’s not that the stories are painful. It’s the cacophony of plots singing at once. She’s an introvert. She prefers an uncluttered narrative. Isn’t that true, she asks herself.
A word here, a scrap there – she fills boxes and wonders about the trailer that will hold a mountain of cardboard and travel thousands of miles southeast to the Ozarks where she will reverse the stories and give them a new context, a new opening paragraph for tea towels and her vintage Vitamix.
She wonders about drugs. Meth, speed – are these the same or different? Something dangerous like illegal drugs would give her the energy to tackle the stories (or is it just stuff). A mad flurry of packing - press the fast-forward button and watch the jittery scramble of her movements, a skyline of boxes rises from the dining room floor in seconds – pop pop pop. But, she doesn’t do illegal drugs. She is stuck in slow-mo homeostasis.
Maybe the key is to Zen her way through the process. She thinks she knows what that means. She’s seen t-shirts and bumper stickers about getting your Zen on. I should Google that, she thinks.
<typing> “The Zen of Packing” <end typing>
The first hit is a site listing packing tips for exotic destinations. She can’t find advice on sifting through four years of accumulated stories. Love it or loathe it, the site asks. She can’t parcel out the good from the bad. The Goodwill pile is for things she’s worn out or outgrown. The rest is a life, the beginning of a marriage. The boxes fill up, for better and for worse.
Here are the Heparin syringes from the home-IV infusions.
Here is the china that will someday go to her husband’s children.
Here are the journals she has carried for thirty years.
Here is the basket of shells and rocks and antlers she can’t let go of.
She gave up booze for Lent. She gave up buying things too. She took on daily prayer, or tried. She keeps forgetting.
Not drinking is easy, even while packing. Not buying is hard. She secretly fears her stories will not be enough in the Ozarks. She is tempted to buy new things and add them to her collection. If it were not for Lent, every day would be a Fat Tuesday shopping spree - an orgy of World Market, Zappos, and Zulily, ripe for the picking, ready to be crafted into story.
I am enough,
I am enough,
I am enough, she whispers.
You are enough, she hears.
She hungers for the word, Amen.