packing up

Going into storage!

Now that I will be moving out of the flat in a few months' time*, I have been packing and spring cleaning every weekend. I discover treasures, but mostly I just discard bags of stuff J and I have hoarded....receipts, empty boxes, little cards and just - stuff. Things I cannot bear to throw, good stuff that I think others may like, I have been giving away either to friends, or via the amazing neighbourhood exchange centre known as "Bulky Refuse Bin". It is magical. I leave a bag there, walk away, and.....it gets adopted within an hour or so. 

Today I looked at one wall of book shelves in the living room and decided it was time to tidy up the collection of knick knacks. This wall of books will re-appear in my new flat. But perhaps not every little memory needs to be replicated. 

I started by thinking I will remove all the items that spoke most of J or our time together. But it was impossible. I would need to remove everything. So I removed the things I felt were hardest to dissociate with him. The photo above is the first cut. Most of them are my birthday presents to him (the Harmonica, the homemade toys, the little "love notes") or things I think are somewhat unique to him (that ugly toadstool stuffed toy and the cute green stuffed toy he had, even before I knew him; or the can of coke my nieces/nephews customised for their "Uncle Monster"). 

Because J had worked from home, the display of these little knick knacks on this shelf was largely his effort. For instance, I would not have displayed the anniversary cards I wrote him, but he left them on the shelf. That was, I think, his way of surrounding himself with things that gave him love.

He made it a point not to get me anything on our wedding anniversaries, because we agreed it was a waste of energies and generated senseless anxiety. But most years I broke that promise by getting or writing him something. He would protest that it was "unfair" I broke the promise but he accepted it graciously because he knew he would be planning something especially lovely for my birthday that would completely out-do my gifts. He was quietly competitive that way. But also because he was never shy putting up FB/IG posts saying sweet things to me on any regular day - whereas I never did. I made an effort on our anniversary, but he made the effort on most days. Or at least that's how I choose to remember this past. 

I share the note below, partly because I hear too much from friends about marriages that go south simply from a prolonged period of un-loving - and not out of broken faith or abusive behaviors. I want to encourage you to give it your best shot before letting go. Make the effort not through big actions, but in the daily actions, which is harder because sometimes it can feel like our lives have started to diverge or that your partner is just very unlovable. 

I share it also for selfish, indulgent reasons. Now that J is gone, nothing I share actually has much personal or private meaning any more. It could well have been "fiction". If not, it feels like another lifetime, another person's lifetime. And so I share it partly to remind myself that while it was indeed real, it has little significance now and should be packed away. So I am turning the page, closing the chapter by archiving this note with all the other little notes. 

Finally, I share it because I know so many amazing people who are also not currently in a romantic relationship.  Please do not despair or envy or grow bitter. Nothing - however pretty it seems - lasts forever (case in point here).  Even in marriages, who is to say we will find the intimacy we desire? But we can choose daily to give our love, care, and presence to people whom God has placed in your life at this point, and be open to receiving all that they give. Don't judge it, don't measure it, don't expect it even. 

This is one of the notes I found on the shelf that I am packing away, written so many years ago for a person who does not now exist. And so, for all the reasons above, you may have this piece of "fiction" -


"This is not a Wedding Invitation", 11 Feb 2016

Dear J, 

thought I'll write you a LOVE LETTER for our 10th anniversary. Touched??? 10th wedding anniversary, according to Wikipedia, is supposed to be symbolised by tin. Er. Like a tin of Campbell soup or longans? It's not very sexy. Still, I got this paper with metal glittery bits. Cheesy. But hey, it's like tin!

Love letters are odd when I see you everyday and text you every few hours. But some things must be said and written down...or maybe drawn. So here. My 10 favourite things about you, dearest Jammy, or my favourite things with you.

I love sitting beside you on the bus. Especially on long journeys. Not on 2__, unfortunately. Because you are a nice solid presence! Ha. Big shoulders. And you always have something to say. You point out interesting things outside the bus window. And very occasionally, you share your playlist with me, which is great 'cos only the 2 of us on the bus get to listen to the music! Buses are good fun because of you. Otherwise I'll take the cab...hee.

I love your fur. That's number 2. Not at first. But it grows on you. Geddit???

I love how you care about big and small things. You're not sloppy about living. You take the time to make small things feel right and look beautiful. You're sweet that way.

I like how you make time to say "I don't like you". Everyday. You sure know how to make a girl feel special.

You are not afraid to say you don't know. That's number 5. But it means there's so much to find out and learn together with you. Despite your very slow pace of reading, you are curious about so many things that I otherwise won't find out about. Music. Fashion. Food. Flowers. Plants. Design.

Even though you have many anxieties and don't seem very resilient (mimosa!), you are actually pretty tough. Because I know I can count on you to take care of me no matter what.

I love making projects and drawing with you. Your silly ideas. Your amazing ideas. Then we argue, which isn't very enjoyable. But I love your "resilience" in wanting to make things better, push an idea further - not get lazy. You inspire me this way. That's my lucky 7.

Escalators are made for you. They are also made for hugging - since there will always be tall people in the world who are lucky enough to be married to short people. I love number 8, two entwined circles.

I love how you care for friends and family. even though people generally make you upset (and I still think you expect too much of others), you always make the effort to ask "how are you" to a friend, remind me to call my mom, and to help whenever you can. You are a super grouchy but kind cat. You always try to do the right thing. 

Number 10 is tough because this list can of course go on some more. 10 is supposed to be perfect. 10 is supposed to be complete. 10 has so much riding on it that it needs to be upright and all encompassing at once. I love you and being with you and being married to you. It is incredibly fun, comforting, exciting and peaceful.

I actually bought 4 pieces of this fancy "tin" paper, but bow it feels like two will do. Two will always do when it's me and you!

Heart,

your girl.


*Since the previous post in September, I have sold my flat and bought a new one! I am going to be at the other side of the same neighbourhood. Hence, this packing...for an eventual move next year! :) 

A very slightly neater shelf!




Postscript: And while at it, I actually gathered up all the birthday presents I made for him since the time of this blog (i.e. 2005) - they are going into storage! This photo documents the collection, if someone ever finds them when I am one day gone. This collection is missing the first birthday toy, a squid, and the second, a Fuji apple. Both are already in storage somewhere. You can find instructions on this blog on how to make your own squid and fuji apple - click on this link and this link.

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