You Will Move Out

Published in Antinomadic, May 11 2016

You will move out much as you moved in, a time lapse in reverse, gathering all of the cloth and papers into two suitcases in the center of the floor, decolonizing corners of the room as you go.

First the shelves stop belonging to you. Then the towel racks. Buying clothes hangers had always seemed too permanent. You didn’t. One less thing to drop down the garbage chute into that clattering darkness. You work your way inward in concentric circles, taking back sentences and gestures, taking back spilled drinks from broken glasses, haunted sleeps on a mattress that kept you awake. You stack your belongings into piles and weed out the imposters among them. You don’t want to clean the dishes again, so you stop using them, and when you do, they stop belonging to you, as if they ever did, waiting for you upon your arrival as though you were just any anonymous tenant in need of a plate.

Moving out is a form of contrition. Forgive the sleeping late, and the not sleeping. Forgive every pot of coffee, individually, and the pink mold you are sorry grew from the used coffee filters. Forgive yourself the plans you made and dropped to the floor of the closet because there was no place to hang them. Hanging, anyway, you would have been able to see their outlines too clearly, to see them sprouting limbs grotesquely and walking away. Going home may not be forgiveness, but you scrub this room until you are sorry, until you it is as strange to you as you once were to it. Once you had never slept in this bed, never traced the condensation in this shower, never burned your arm on this oven, and now you will never sleep here again. You empty the refrigerator, give away the basil plant. You make a to-do list that ends, “go away.”

The last thing you lose is the language. You cannot even say “heavy” to a taxi driver. You have lost “luggage” and “coffee with cream.” On the airplane you work out the equation over and over: how many hours since you last saw the sunrise? You always end up with an uneven remainder. It sticks high in your stomach like turbulence. You land at the same time you departed.

Keep reading...