trigger warning: mentions of death
The bed was the first to go. We disassembled it and piled the six part frame for the movers to take to the truck. After that everything seemed simpler, quicker. From my room to our yard, mom and dad were helping me carry an entire room of our home into bags and boxes. Mom said this is how things start, clean slates and changing towns.
Back in the room, the carpet dented at four points allowed me some faith. The impressions meant that in the future, a bed would fit back in this room in just the right way.
To avoid looking at the bare bones of my room, Dad said he wanted to call on the spirits of all the things that I wasn't taking with me. Placing himself cross-legged on the floor, he made mom and I sit on either side. We held hands to form something between a circle and a triangle.
He grumbled a wordless mantra and invoked the spirits of the cushions from my room that were travelling to an aunt's. My yellowed primary school journals and worse for wear bed-sheets were in a better place now, he giggled, losing his shaman's stance. Remembering the better place was the garbage bin behind the house.
Dad announced that my departed stuff understood that not everything can be brought along. He said not all journeys take you home.
The end of the moving weekend meant sharing my roommate's bed until we were un-lazy enough to unpack. The movers had placed everything where I asked them to. But there is only so much others can do. Mom said putting things out there and appropriately is your job. Which I was going to do tomorrow, trust me.
When tomorrow became a six hour orientation, a campus tour and a party, we fell onto her second-hand, big-savings, surprisingly-undamaged bed when we got home. Which I had two of. The one where I had grown up so far, where my parents lived. The place I go back to when I mess my life up, where everything was always the way it should be.
This one was different. It had two people living in it instead of three, and more visited this one in a single day than that one in a whole year. It demanded that I do things well, do them right. I had to be careful about everything I'd bought with me, where to put it all.
When we lost the screws for the bed, I moved into her room. A few days later we unpacked everything together. The house was full of us. Explaining cause of buying, remembering who gave it to us, answering "what were you thinking" and wearing pots for hats and dancing on the kitchen counter while we decorated took a whole mid-semester night.
For every one of my birthday gifts, she had fought a cousin for something. For my mom's choice, her brother had gotten it for her as a joke. For all my people, she had hers. For all my things, she had hers.
Mom, dad, and I watched my things disappear around us. Things that weren't mine. But for the years that I couldn't speak, couldn't pick, couldn't exchange money for, sometimes didn't need, didn't want, someone decided that I should have them. For children should always remember they have family.
Mom and dad recounted blankets and socks from many birthdays, the new grandparent- couriered book bag, the desk my aunt got me in the third grade, the set of three stainless steel water bottles dad bought solely because they looked like penguins. This was love fit into boxes and cars and post-offices. With a card or chocolate or cash attached to it. Now, luggage and legacy.
There outside, I asked dad why he had started the homemade sťances tradition.
He told me it was so I could remember my grandparents after they died. Or our old cat who moved houses without telling us when I was twelve. Then more people, friends, neighbours that we lost over the years.
He said it's important that I remembered people instead of saying I haven't forgotten them.
And to do that you have to walk through their lobbies and porches and front doors and go into the back through their kitchens. You have to call them and write to them. You have to bring them food. You have to help them clean up. You have to meet the ghosts that live with them and assure them you'll love the people they love.
He said like I was made of him and mom, we are made of everyone we meet. That families are made out of families. That homes are made out of homes.
Near the end of the year my roommate's mom got sick. We cried on the way over so we didn't worry her.
While my roommate said her goodbye, outside I answered kind questions about our class schedules and eating habits and the size of student housing. She collected me from the living room to introduce me to her mom, to tell her we're taking the stuff she'd promised my roommate for us.
I stayed back with some neighbours while her family went to the funeral. We sat more visitors in the living room. In the kitchen, we shared a laugh as we ran out of tea cups. We ran showers for everyone on their return.
In bed my roommate showed me things that her mom had bestowed upon us and our home. There was a hot plate, a fringed lamp, books, crystal jewellery, some scarves. There was a sheep shaped night-light.
She held my hand under the covers as she prayed. Opening her eyes she laughed a laughter that only an epiphany in the middle of a prayer warrants. She said I'd always have to sleep in her room so we could share the nightlight. We'd have to share everything. In our home, we could put everything everywhere.