Saturday, January 5, 2008

She's about a mover

Here I am earlier this evening, feigning sleep after spending a few hours unpacking boxes in my new co-op in the Foggy Bottom section of Washington, D.C. Actually, it just takes the sight of all the boxes left to unpack to make me tired.

When I left the Daily News last June to move to the D.C. area to work for the Cardinal Newman Society, I had to put my Morristown, N.J., condo on the market, after owning it for only a year. Most of my belongings went into storage and I lived out of boxes for six months in a furnished rental in Northern Virginia before finding the Foggy Bottom co-op.

Then, my Cardinal Newman job ended December 11, just one week before the co-op's closing. Thankfully, my mortgage had already gone through. Although it would eat up my entire savings, the combined monthly fees were less than what I was paying in rent and utilities, so I went ahead with the purchase. The movers have brought over my stuff from storage, so I'm doing some unpacking before moving myself in from my Virginia abode in a couple of days.

When it comes to stressful life events, I really hit the trifecta last month — losing my job, moving, and learning I would need a thyroidectomy. I'm very thankful that this month is shaping up much better so far. The opportunity has come up for some exciting and meaningful employment (will share more about that once it's confirmed), and I've been blessed by the prayers and outreach of friends, readers, and family.

One very happy development is that my sister, Jennifer, is flying in from her home in the Midwest to be with me when I get my operation on the 29th of this month. I think it will be the most time we've spent together since we stayed at the Gramercy Park Hotel to celebrate New Year's Eve 2003. That's us in the park at right; I'm the shorter one. You can see how happy I was — we had a beautiful time.

Speaking of my being a bit vertically challenged (actually 5-foot-3, but somehow I look shorter), that reminds me that I managed to finally throw out some old letters tonight.

In The Thrill of the Chaste, I wrote:

One way that I’ve tried to hold on to past relationships is by saving letters from former boyfriends. It didn’t matter whether I was the one who initiated the breakup or not—every mushy note, every cheesy birthday card, every casual e-mail was preserved.

A few years ago—about the same time that I began to confront my fear of intimacy—I began to realize that by saving those letters, I was reinforcing my own insecurity. It was as though I felt I needed proof that someone, somewhere, had once cared about me. By holding on to such trophies, I was holding on to the fear that no man would ever care about me again. So, little by little, I started to destroy those old notes, cards, and e-mails whenever I would find them.

To actually destroy a letter from a former boyfriend felt terrible. I would sometimes cry as I did it. It was like the boyfriend’s feelings for me were somehow still alive until I killed them by tearing up his letter—or, if it was an e-mail, hitting Delete.

But once the dirty deed was done, you know what? Relief.

It was as if a weight had been taken off my shoulders. I could finally let go.
A friend reminded me of that passage yesterday, saying it had helped him. He added an observation that I wish I had thought of: If one hopes to be married, holding onto such letters is disrespectful to one's future spouse. It implies that I am unable to give my whole heart; someone else still has a piece of it.

I felt a twinge of hypocrisy at my friend's complimenting my advice. Hours earlier, while unpacking my old files, I had discovered numerous letters that escaped the great purge I had described in my book.

With that in mind, arriving at my new place today to continue unpacking, I sucked in my gut and prepared to toss any missives from old flames that turned up.

It wasn't long before I found a few letters from a relationship that ended over ten years ago.

It really does seem silly to hold onto such things for that long.

I tried to avoid reading the letters before stuffing them in a garbage bag along with the paper that had wrapped my dishes, but my eyes fell upon one line.

It said in boyish block lettering, "DEAR MUNCHKIN."