Packing symbolism

Packing for home

A month from now I will be on my way back to Alaska. To live. Everyone says it’s a big move, but in the same breath say it either isn’t surprising, or thought it was simply a matter of time.

The past three days have been unlike any I have experienced and I’m still weeks away from actually moving. I’ve been talking to a bunch of friends about things like direction, the gravity of decisions and romantic, realist and fatalistic approaches to the world. Now as I walk around my place and start to organize a decade’s worth of accumulation, I am absorbing the completeness of this move. I took college stuff to college. I moved what was important to California four years later and started collecting relics of the young adult life. Yeah it’s just stuff, but it’s also representative of what I’ve done, and how I’ve lived since I embarked on a life of my own. There’s a lot that means something specific – shirts from college philanthropies, student sections, shirts for staff vs. student volleyball and basketball games. What do you do with those? You can’t really take them to Goodwill, and to throw away a shirt you will probably never wear would be wrong, especially if you think about it too much.

People say all roads lead home. I guess I never believed that until a few years after college. I knew I’d want somewhere wild to live out the bulk of my middle life, but wasn’t sure if I’d actually do it. It’s easy to talk about what you want, and how you think you’ll end up, but it’s not easy to leave behind comfort and stability. It’s comfortable in California because I like my job, my colleagues, my friends and I have a nice little life carved out. But it’s a nice little life no where near my immediate family, and a full two hours drive from any semblance of the authentic, potentially violent hand of nature which was out my childhood front door.  So it’s not really my fault I’m leaving. I was conditioned. Conditioned by a community to believe that rain doesn’t ruin things, it just makes things wet, and if you like someone, buy them a hooded sweatshirt. I was conditioned to know one day the pull of home would be more than I could resist. At my high school graduation, elders told me never to forget where I came from. I guess I didn’t.

So I’m packing my life into fish boxes. Fish boxes I kept each summer after I dumped the salmon and halibut they kept cold into the freezer. Fish boxes I stacked empty in my gear room. (I went to a Halloween party as a fish box once).
Now they’re taking me home.

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