Everywhere I go I leave pieces of myself behind.
I was in 3rd grade when custody was suddenly switched from my mother to my father, so suddenly that I didn’t even get a chance to clean my desk out. I wrote a letter to my 3rd grade teacher, asking that my things be shipped to my new address. I never heard back.
Moving always seemed to be a chaotic affair. You packed up what you could in what little time you had, and anything that didn’t get packed got left behind. It was almost therapeutic in a way, a way of paring down the clutter, starting over.
At one house the landlord changed the locks before we could get everything out. I lost a piano to that move. And my pale green ’68 Ford LTD with hideaway headlights and fuzzy black dice. A few months later we drove down my old street only to find that the house had been leveled. Only an empty lot remained of my childhood. I always wondered what happened to my piano.
I knew I’d be able to bring precious little with me to Hawaii. This was in the days before outrageous baggage fees; I planned on bringing two carry-ons and two checked bags, and have my mother ship a single box of movies and cds. I’ve since wished I’d left the CDs behind and packed books instead.
I had to leave another piano behind. This one, my baby, a Yamaha DGX-505 that I bought on a whim one day while fooling around in a music store. Fullsize, touch sensitive, USB capable, beautiful sound. Just beautiful. I anguished long and hard over whether or not I could bring her, even going so far as to buy a $200 flight case, only to be told by the airline that it exceeded the limitations for cargo.
I bought a new piano the same week I arrived in Hawaii, but I still long for the old one. Every day.
I left my rats behind. A nine hour flight (if I were lucky enough to get a direct one) was just too long for them to be in the cargo hold. No airlines allow rats in the cabin. Furthermore, I never did get a straight answer as to whether they would be subject to the strict quarantine laws that Hawaii has.
The rats went to live with my best friend. I transferred custody a few weeks before I was set to move, as I had some other travelling planned. A few days before Christmas, while visiting family in Florida, the two older rats died. I stood at their grave before departing to Hawaii.
I left my violin behind, at the gate no less. I’d thought I would be able to bring it on as my second carryon, but one of my checked bags ended up being 9 pounds overweight. I was able to shuffle some things into a spare carry-on I’d brought, but the violin was handed over to my mother.
I left my film camera behind. Canon AE-1, a set my mother had bought from a yardsale for $200, a present for entering college. I’ve since made arrangements for the camera to be returned to me next time I’m on the mainland.
I arrived in Hawaii with two suitcases and two carry-ons. Nine months later, my possessions haven’t grown much beyond that. There’s an uncertainty to my situation. I don’t know how long I’ll be in Hawaii. I wasn’t even supposed to stay this long. I’m reluctant to invest money into anything only to end up leaving it behind.