My life is boxes. I’m living in a temporary world, day in and day out reminded that I am transient and that nothing will last. My new apartment has everything built in. Mirrors (full-length!) and counter space and shelving and carpets and laundry machines (oh my). So, why would I bother unpacking? I can live out of a box, out of all these boxes, with them. They are my room mates, my bed mates, my furniture. When I tell people my college major, they think I live in a box, anyhow (“Ha ha!” They guffaw, “And what do you expect to do with that? Will you make any money?”) – so is living out of a box really so out of character? Really so unrealistic, after all?
I am in a game of chicken with the boxes. I refuse to empty and deflate them; they refuse to move. We are staring each other down each night. I return home from work and they have not shifted an inch because they expect that I will fold as I go about my evening, but I never give them a second glance. Then I cook and change and go to bed and wake up and they are silent, expectant, jubilant that I must surely give in. Surely no one can stand to begin the day like this– in disarray, unsettled–but I can. And I am.
After some time, we find our peace together, the boxes and I. We grow tired of our animosity and the hostilities end (unofficially. There is no signed agreement, my law school friends remind me.) In the wake of our cold war, we make slow amends, offering tokens of our peace to one another in gradual increments. I make a stir-fry and leave them the leftovers, and they let me pass through them without trying to trip me. They listen attentively to the travails of my office life and the friends I miss and the adventures I’m missing because I don’t travel.
But one day, as I walk in the door, I am shocked to find everything is put away. Cardboard is no where to be found; the apartment is whole. They have done me favor, perhaps. Or maybe they’ve grown tired of my lackluster cooking. Regardless, they are gone, and I cannot help but feel abandoned in my too-spacious room and I don’t sleep that night.
The clutter was comfort, I think but don’t say (there’s nothing to talk to, now the boxes are gone). Items piled high in each container, like my expectations, sitting dormant, waiting to be told they couldn’t stay here anyway. I hadn’t felt settled, but I’d been at peace, learning to rely on relying on nothing. Now, I’m afraid. Now, there is something to lose.