I have been in my current profession for 27 years, starting as a teaching assistant in graduate school. I've kept papers, class notes I took, books, and then later scholarly papers, syllabi for classes I taught, more books, files from committee meetings, student grades, student papers that were never picked up, research files...not to mention funny toys and notes and photographs given to me by students over the years.
Today was the day I left denial and went to my office to start clearing out and packing up.
I've procrastinated and procrastinated, because I knew how it would be.
I knew I couldn't toss stuff without looking at it.
I had a stomach-ache all morning and found every conceivable thing to do at home before I finally went to campus. But I went, and it was just as devastatingly tender as I had dreaded.
I barely made a dent in 5 hours, but I just had to leave it for a while. Too intense. I swung wildly from tossing whole drawers without looking, to sitting cross-legged on the floor re-reading a student paper from 1997 in its entirety, and back again.
This is what is known as liminal space. I'm between my old life and my new life, I'm residing in transition. It's raw here, and both exhilarating and terrifying.
So I cling to fixed points in my landscape one second and in the next one I long to get in my car and drive away, leaving absolutely everything behind.
I usually curse the fact that my friends are spread to the four winds, but today I take strange comfort in the knowledge that at least some of "my people" are not fixed geographically in the place I'm leaving.