This was the summer I got used to wearing flip flops that go between the toes. This was the summer the bathroom tiles fell off the wall. This was the summer I grew a head of cabbage and more collard greens than we can eat. This was the summer I got bit by a spider and it left a permanent mark on my arm. This was the summer I saw all of the Dakotas and a tiny corner of Wyoming. This was the summer we colored the driveway with chalk. This was the summer I gave my Dad's eulogy and this is the last summer I will sleep in the house I grew up in.
For years we've been telling Mom and Dad they should down size to a smaller house closer to town. Dad would tell you that he's all for it, but Mom won't have it. Mom will tell you that she'd loved to move, but Dad wanted to stay. Now it's up to Mom and she's moving into a house right next to my sister. The house conveniently went on the market a few weeks ago. Our old house will now be one I can drive by and say "hey! I lived there when I was a kid". This is the house they brought me home to after my birth. I learned to walk on the brick floors of the den. The carpet on the staircase was worn from countless sledding trips down them in sleeping bags. There were so many evenings where I fell asleep on my Strawberry Shortcake blanket on the den floor in front of the fire. But it's time to say goodbye.
I spent the few days I was there sorting through old pictures and boxing up the few things I wanted to keep and a few things that might sell on eBay. All in all it wasn't much. A box of Memaw's china, some pictures, some old Fisher Price toys for eBay and an old doll. It's one of those big floppy rag doll types, but she's wearing all kinds of clothes. The clothes button, zip and tie and she's wearing shoes you have to buckle. I remember spending hours buttoning and unbuttoning her vest over and over. I saved a box of letters Stephanie wrote me in high school. A box of cringe worthy notes about her latest crush and questions about my latest crush.
The rest went into the dumpster. Even the yearbooks. I know those were things I probably should have kept, but as I flipped through the pages I didn't feel an ounce of nostalgia for those days. Instead it dredged up old feelings of inadequacy. It was just a reminder of the years where I could be half me. I was so insecure, so awkward. I wore jeans and large t-shirts to hide my imaginary large grotesque body. I turned page after page not seeing frivolous teenage years, but all the reasons why I wanted to leave. In fact, by the time I got to my Senior year, I was already absent. I took college courses and was only around half the day, two of those hours spent in band and choir. I am no where to be found in the senior group photo.
Letting go of those yearbooks was like letting go of fifty pound weights. Oh the years it took to pull away from all of that, to be comfortable in my skin. To find my voice, my confidence. To be free.
This was the summer I let go.