On Opening Presents Like a Skin of Snow

Snow ribbon

I’m thinking about leavings, but since I already have a poem titled “On Leavings”, I felt it’d be bad form to use that title as the title for this post.  After all, once that poem’s been published, awarded, and anthologized then people searching for the poem might be confused to find a post that shares that poem’s title, expecting the post to be about that poem.

Though, technically, such a post would be called On On Leaving.

And a post written about such a post, which this post would possibly have been, would be titled On On On Leaving, which simply reads like I have an unavoidably transliterable stammer much like King George VI and, truly, you should all go out and see The King’s Speech right now.  Also, rent Temple Grandin.  Oh, and you might enjoy Ondine.

See, here are two things about leaving.

One is that I’m abandoning a place again (in this case, home) to return to another place (in that case, home).  In this home, surrounded by the evidence of my parents’ lives, I am effortlessly comfortable.  There is no real pressure to engage in things that I don’t want to engage in, and there’s plenty of time for lolling about in front of the TV or for warming a couch with a book in hand.

[To be sure, I’ve been sick for much of this vacation, a state which doesn’t allow much for other people imposing their ideas and desires on you.]

And what I’ve found myself trying to do when visiting home is finding ways to step out of my ordinary life.  All those movies above aren’t ones that I would’ve chosen to watch.  It’s not even that I don’t find them interesting, but that my hand always veers towards the bad movie or the horror rather than the realistic or biographical or romantical (which is how I took Ondine from the cover and the back-of-the-DVD summary).

I really like all of those movies.  Each of them moved me to tears (though, Megan might say, that’s not all that hard) but, more importantly, each of them grappled with real issues in the world and of the heart and, for the most part, didn’t provide easy answers or miraculous endings.

When I used to watch movies with Jason M., he’d claim that every once in a while he’d want to watch a good film.  Sure, okay, but you can watch a “good” film anytime.  How often do you get to watch a bad film?  On purpose?  With friends?

At the time, I knew he was lying.  Now, I’m not so sure.

Snow-covered road

Two (in my list of things about leaving) is that I always fear leaving.

It’s not that I’m afraid of travel.  Or that I fear I won’t return again to where I’m leaving from.  Or that I’m missing anything by leaving.

The feeling is hard to explain.  So prepare for stumbling.

Essentially, the feeling is emptiness.  A hollowness.  A waiting to be filled.

A day or two or three before I leave a place, I begin to feel already separate from it.  The leaving is imminent and the departure date is fixed and the form of transportation is immutable and I am already gone.

I am not of the place that I am about to be leaving.  I can’t make plans.  The lives of those around me are continuing on past the point of when I’m gone and those lives are not concerned with me at all.  They can’t be, because I’m not there in that definite future.

But I am also not of the place that I’m returning to, not yet.  Until the plane or the bus or the train or the car or the (once) boat stops moving and spits me back out into the localized world, I am the definition of transient.

I stall on packing until the last moment – luckily, packing doesn’t take me long – because as soon as I’m packed I feel like I should be gone.  If I’m packed, then why aren’t I moving?  Why am I still here?

In truth, all packed, I’m just waiting to go.

And then I go.

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