Two empty coffee cups.
Crumbs on the counter.
A damp towel hanging on the bathroom door.

Baggage claim tickets.
Crumpled shopping bags.
A used razor.

Looking around I can see all the evidence that M. was here. It seems way too quiet now. What would otherwise be considered a mess puts a smile on my face. Each little disturbance reminds me of a brief moment in time shared with M. in Washington. He is half way home now, somewhere over the Atlantic, returning to Munich to get the apartment ready for my arrival.

I've sometimes wondered if it's worse to be the person leaving or the person left behind. When you are leaving you are trading familiarity for a new adventure. Your world becomes more full as you make space for the new that is in store. If you are being left, you have the comfort of familiarity but there is a vacuum, a void that is hard to fill as you look around at the reminders of how things used to be.

I have left my own remnants in Connecticut with my parents and they offer glimpses of our shared family life over the years. I in turn have been left for a few last days in Washington to reconstruct my time here, not only of the last few days but the last few years. Soon I will be gone too. Some bits and pieces will be left behind, artifacts of what used to be but no one will be here to remember what they mean. Objects in and of themselves have little meaning; they need the people who love and remember the stories to attain sentimental value.

I think this is why I have always fabricated my own stories when I see an old necklace in an antique shop, an abandoned car on a highway, a neighborhood where no one lives anymore, a name carved in a bench or an old blanket sitting in a dumpster, among other things. I imagine the people who belonged with these objects and what became of them. They are stories that I will never know but just in case no one is around to remember the details, at least the things they have left behind and my imagination ensure that some fragment of their existence lives on.


kj said...

You lied to me when you said you write like its all science: that you state the facts and that is that. Or at least thats not how you wrote this... maybe its the emotion of leaving but you wrote poetically (and that is a good thing).

We haven't gotten to talk much these past few weeks - you being busy with M and me with my problems but I'm always here if you need anything. Good luck. Talk to you soon.


ps - I can't wait to see "Posted from Switzerland" ;-)

lobstah said...

I also make up stories about abandoned objects, probably because Dad was always so good at making us feel "sorry" for them. I remember one time Dad and I went skiing, and as we were going up the lift you could see an old, abandoned snow-making gun in the woods. And he was like, "Oh, look at the poor abandoned snow-making equipment, don't you feel sorry for it?" Now I feel sorry for all lost objects, especially abandoned buildings.

Still hard to believe that you're leaving, but I'm excited for your adventure! Sorry I was such a blubberer when you left...at least we could laugh about it!

Léons Life said...

I am a living example that this type of relationship can work. You will need courage and a very open mind and there will be tears along the way, but if real love is there it will work.

I met my husband while we were both working on a cruise ship in the USA. After having known him for only a few months I gave up everything (job, family and friends) and moved to Switzerland with him ( Lausanne)

16 years later we are now married, living in France and have a son. It's been hard ( especially for me as the 'forgeiner') but thats all part of the adventure.....

Good luck !

Expat Traveler said...

I'd have to agree with Kyle in that I can't wait to see a post from Switzerland also. I think it's harder being left behind. The person arriving early has to make sure everything is suitable and could be busy making sure all the little details are ironed out. While that person waiting to leave, tends to finish in a hurry and then just hurries up and waits... Waiting is the hardest part... 2 Days left, so exciting! Just so you know, no snow currently in Basel.