July 13, 2009


I have been trying to write, trying to pack, trying to prepare. I have been in Santa Cruz for 5 years, arriving for college and staying for lack of better to do. That is a lot of time to accumulate. I did not expect it to be so difficult to decide what merits saving.

I opened a box in my closet that my mother sent over a few months ago. It was full of items she had thought would be useful, all having had belonged to Laura. I never opened the box or used any of its contents, mostly mixing bowls and tampons. I went through it two days ago, knowing I could probably just hand it back to her intact, but feeling I should do my part in the liquidation of my sister's belongings. After all, there is still the entire closet of her clothes at my parents' house in Fremont, still untouched. I was unperturbed until I came across a cheap clear plastic bag with white plastic handles emblazoned with Kaiser Permanente across the side. 10 months ago I watched my mother cut the waistband drawstring out of a pair of Laura's pajama pants and place them in that bag. I took the bag to her when I visited her in a ward in Palo Alto, with Colby. No strings allowed. I sat on her hospital bed behind a drawn curtain and looked at the motivational pastel drawings she'd been encouraged to draw while in the hospital. I can do anything.

I still find it hard to grasp what has happened.

People keep asking me if I am sad to leave. How to explain that compared to some sadnesses, this one seems too bearable. So I give away more than half of the books I still own, and the library diminishes. I shed things--paper clips, filler paper, spatulas, measuring cups, smelly markers, journals, earrings, skirts, plants, and am left wondering why I ever kept any of this. Tape, pencils, stickers, cardstock, wrapping paper, broaches, potting soil, rugs, couches, bowls, garlic presses. It makes me think of my grandmother, who gives away more every year, determined that whoever cleans out the house when she has passed has almost no work to do. She gives away things she has owned her entire life. Trying to prepare.

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