.journal 2002.07.23

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Unpacking memories

Now listening to: Tori Amos, Under the Pink
Now reading: Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
Now playing: Xenogears (Playstation)

You never really have that much of a perspective on your life until you’ve seen it in boxes before you. That’s a lesson that’s been hard to learn these past few months after moving back into the house, but I seem to be learning it all the more as the weeks go by here.

When I first moved back here, I didn’t do much in the way of unpacking; it was the second half of the semester, just weeks away from finals, and I had papers and projects that demanded my attention. I got everything unpacked that I needed to, though; my (good) stereo and CDs, my computer, clothes, my songwriting stuff. From there I kind of dabbled at getting things in order, but it was definitely dabbling; boxes of my stuff remained to be unpacked.

The pace didn’t really pick up once the Spring semester ended; I had more free time during my summer class, but I still didn’t do that much to unpack things. I had other things going on to be sure, but I attributed my lack of unpacking to laziness, for the most part. There was a bit of mental resistance going on that I could sense, stuff that I just didn’t want to unpack, but it was nothing I couldn’t deal with.

After my summer course ended, I took a couple of weeks off of pretty much everything; I bucked all my responsibilities, and just tried to relax as much as I could. After taking twelve courses, and getting twelve A’s, I deserved it, dammit. But since then I’ve slowly been getting back into the swing of things, doing remedial Japanese lessons, helping out more around the house, things like that. And one of the big ways I’ve been helping is to try to get as unpacked as possible.

I say “as unpacked as possible” because it’s not entirely possible for me to unpack as yet. While the house is certainly livable at this point, there are little tiny things that still remain to be done. As an example, one of the things my father’s been doing recently has been to paint the back porch; once it’s painted, we’ll probably get it screened at long last. One of the projects that remains to be done is to put shelves up on a couple of my walls, and without those shelves, there are some things I’ve got boxed up (such as my videotape collection) that I just don’t have space for.

Still, once I got things a bit more organized here in my room, I figured I should try to get as much stuff in here as possible. The process proved easier than I thought it would be, especially now that we’ve got air conditioning in here so I don’t have to worry about sweating up a storm. Slowly but surely, I got box after box cleared out and set by the trash cans beside our house, as I got more and more unpacked.

At this point, there really isn’t much left I can unpack. I’ve got boxes of videotapes, boxes of sheet music (which will go into our loft once we get a keyboard up there), boxes of audio tapes, and other knick-knacks destined for my eventual wall-shelves. It’s getting harder and harder to find stuff that I can actually move in here. As of right now, there are only a couple of boxes of stuff that I can really find to put in here.

One big problem, though. The boxes all have Antioch stuff in there. Remember that resistance I spoke about earlier? It’s not so tolerable anymore.

I can still remember that September afternoon, the Saturday before I was to return to Antioch for my second year there, when I made the decision not to return. At the time, I thought it was the right decision, given how my father needed my help at his business. For him, it was probably the right decision. For me, it was the dumbest decision I ever made in my life, and despite trying to live with “no regrets,” I still can’t help but chastize myself for making that decision.

In the days that followed, the gravity of my decision just totally wiped me out. For about the next two weeks, all I did was wake up, eat, play Shining in the Darkness and watch the O.J. Simpson trial on E!. I think I showered maybe once in that timeframe; I was just totally out of it, thinking about what I had chosen to leave behind. Finally I gave my sister some money, had her go pick me up Chrono Trigger and Killer Instinct, and playing those I finally got out of my funk. (Shining in the Darkness doesn’t exactly lend itself to happy moods.)

Every autumn after that, I couldn’t help but get depressed over not going back to Antioch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Antioch is the only place on this planet where I have ever really felt like I’ve fit in. I made so many friends — real friends — and learned so much, and more than that, I grew as a person so much. I was, to borrow a phrase, finally “finding my groove” over there. And every year that passed by as I toiled for my father, the autumn would come and all the stores would run their back-to-school sales, and the fact that I wasn’t going back would just gut me, emotionally and spiritually.

Then last autumn came, and I was going back to school. Only it wasn’t at Antioch, it was at the University of Toledo. I thought that maybe that would help me feel better that autumn, but in truth it only helped a little. Then again, at that time I was also trying to deal with living in a hotel after the fire, the problems my new close friends were having, and being enrolled in a public school for the first time since I was nine years old.

UT is fine, but it isn’t Antioch; then again, I harboured no illusions about it being Antioch when I enrolled there. All the personal development I’ve been doing these past two years has been thanks to L. turning me onto The Artist’s Way; UT doesn’t exactly facilitate growth all that much. (As a point of comparison, Yellow Springs, Ohio, the town Antioch is located in, has a total population of about 2,000. UT has over 21,000 students.) It’s definitely a better place for me to be at than my father’s office, though, both for my present development and my hopes for my future (you know, like actually leaving home and getting a decent job and all that).

In about a month, I’ll be heading back to UT for my second year there. I expect that month will probably whiz by faster than I’d like, but that’s only to be expected, I guess. I hadn’t thought that much about how I’d be feeling this autumn, but looking at the Antioch stuff I have to clear out of those boxes and find space for in my room, I guess maybe I’ll still have a bit of a bad feeling about things. Maybe it won’t be as strong as it was in years past, but it’ll still be there.

After the fire I’ve been trying to be better about moving on with things, about not getting so deeply attached to things. I guess maybe Antioch isn’t going to be so easy to detach myself from. I’m not even sure I should try to detach myself from there; the place is miraculous, and I’d like to think that one of these days, when I’m ready for it, I can go back there, if only to look around at my old stomping grounds. Still, I wish it didn’t feel like it’s going to be so hard to find places for my orientation name badge, my copies of the student newspaper, and all that paperwork. Maybe I’ll just hold off on unpacking it until I get those shelves up here, handle all the boxes at once. But that’s just avoiding the issue, isn’t it? Sigh.

Everyone take care and be well. I’ll see you all around.

— Sean

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