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On The Road

I’m heading to South Carolina on vacation. First night … I have a room just south of the beltway south of Indianapolis tonight. As I drove from Naperville, I was struck by the amount of traffic I encountered and realized: it’s been 25 years since I headed this way on the road to the Carolinas, and 25 years since I moved back to Illinois from the South.

Do I miss it? Yes … but there’s a degree of fear mixed in with the anticipation: will it be anything like the South I remembered, do I still belong there? Part of the reason for my trip is simply a vacation; it’s been years since I went on a real vacation, and visited an area I am not familiar with.

I’m spending four days in Greenville, SC (where I’ve never visited) and four days in the Charleston, SC area (where I spent a decent amount of time when I lived in NC).

Tomorrow I hit the road again, driving to Greenville.

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I’ve recently completed my move to a new apartment. I chose a smaller, one-bedroom apartment and decided this was a good time in my life to get rid of a lot of the junk I’d accumulated over the past 20 or 30 years. This hasn’t been a trauma-free experience … I’ve found it’s difficult letting go of things, letting go of the past. But there was stuff in my back closet that I hadn’t looked at in decades, and had been blindly moving from one place to another in the years after my divorce.

Mizener's Flea Market (Formerly Circle M) / Waterdown / Flamborough, Ontario / July, 2007

Bill Barber via Compfight


I still had a large drum humidifier from my townhome days in the 1990s. I suppose a lot of this junk I’d held onto thinking that someday I might own a home again, and when I did, I could use this stuff. But would I really want a twenty-year-old humidifier if I bought a home, and what if (as is likely) I never own a home again?

Time to get rid of stuff. It started with my wedding ring which I’d been holding onto since my divorce in late 1989. What was I thinking, that I might use if I married again, or that my ex and I might patch things up again. Get rid of it. I took it to a gold coin place here in Naperville that has been around for a long while and got $80 for it.

Six boxes of quality Library of America volumes went to the Naperville Public Library. Most everything else went to Good Will: books, clothing I’d never wear again, kitchen appliances, an expensive elliptical machine, a few pieces of furniture.

This experience should, I suppose, have been liberating. I definitely feel lighter, and I love my new apartment which is full of windows and flooded with light in the mornings. And yet … I think of older people I’ve known like my grandmothers, who gave away and sold a lot of their goods in their later years. Did they feel a need to declutter, too, or is this an impulse that comes with increasing age, that as we prepare to move on to whatever passes for an afterlife we lighten our burdens and decrease our connections to the things of this life?

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