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Moving Away

…and taking my skeletons with me

When I took the first step to strike out on my own, the idea was to get away … to shed hand picked aspects of my past and myself and to start with a clean slate. I was only 17, so there really wasn’t that much past, but at the time it seemed an eternity.

It was really more of a half step, since I was in the relatively safe bubble of my university and, despite being 800 plus miles from home, I had family nearby. But, it was a step all the same, and my first realization that I really didn’t have a choice about which of my skeletons followed me to new destinations.

Perhaps I simply haven’t gone far enough away, I thought to myself, as I pursued my next clean slate overseas with a group of American students, for what started out as a junior year abroad in France. Once again, I felt the sweet rush of freedom and of relative anonymity. I was an empty page … a blob of fresh clay on the wheel.

When you are a blob of clay, however, yours are not the only hands bringing forth a new shape as the wheel spins. Once again my skeletons reached out their spindly fingers, made sure they intertwined their impressions into my new form, and left little metallic stains on my clean slate, which, I discovered, was only about as clean as an old used Etch-a-Sketch can be.

Fast forward to about the fourth or fifth month of my year abroad, and the opportunity to jump ship away from my group and over to Italy presented itself. My mind reeled at the possibility of not only heading to a completely new destination, but to a place where absolutely nobody knew anything about who I was … or had been. A true clean slate: a place where I could totally reinvent myself and shed inadequacies, imperfections, and fears that had plagued me since childhood. The fact that I did not speak any Italian at the time was intimidating, but seemed like a small obstacle to such an enticing prospect.

Off I went … followed by, you guessed it, my skeletons.

Over the years my perspective has changed, as is wont to happen with the passage of time and a hearty serving of experiences (desired or not). My focus has long since shifted away from escaping past experiences to greeting and gathering new ones. This could only happen once I finally learned to embrace my skeletons, and realized that their impressions and metallic stains were not mere imperfections, but important pieces of who I am. I still look for fresh starts and clean slates, it’s human nature after all, but I try do so with much more self-awareness.

And now, as two new slates are presenting themselves in close proximity (a new year and yet another move to a new and distant place), I am well aware that my skeletons will be coming along, no longer following a step or two behind, but walking by my side.

My Moon, My Sun, Little Man, Jeff, and the rest of our family would like to wish you all a peaceful and joyous holiday season. All the best to you and all your hard earned skeletons as you begin this new year together.

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