"things to leave. things to keep"

“things to leave”
     -  (notes to self)


  1. ideas of how it was, or is, supposed to be.
  2. some things undone. for a day, or a week, or as long as you need. (because you need to stay in bed. or you need to make things. or its warm and you'd rather be outside.) leave the dishes in the sink, the laundry on the floor, the phone calls unanswered.
  3. the things already lost and gone that you still hold tight to the idea of, as if your clenched fist alone could bring them back.
  4. leave children unattended for periods of time. to go play. breathing space. without the interruption or intrusion of parental hovering.
  5. the clothes that no longer fit. or that feel weird. or belonged to another life. if you don't love looking at them and wearing them, take them to the nearest donation drop off box.
  6. bullshit.
  7. the job that is slowly killing you. do what you need to do. set things in order. and then yes, just leave.
  8. leave out a plate of cookies by the bed. with a note that says, "it's ok. eat as many as you want. there's more."
  9. leave on the bathroom light, when you are feeling scared or disoriented. it helps, when you wake up in the night, to have that little bit of light that is there waiting for you.
  10. leave behind notes. love. hidden in coat pockets. tucked into lunches. scribbled on the mirror.
  11. the obligations, that you hate. and no one really asked you to do anyway.
  12. the conversation slip-ins, also known as attempts to subtly influence or control how another person perceives you. those little unnecessary add-ons slipped into sentences, to make you look better or smarter or richer or hipper or more glamorous or more enlightened or more or less of something. (see number 6).
  13. arrogance. when it shows up, there is really not space for anything else. so just walk away.
  14. some of the stories. the ones about should have. or should never have. the ones about how it was all their fault. or all yours. the ones about if only, about perfection, about how dare he, about why didn’t she. the ones that you pulled out to tell yourself who you were or are or need to be, long after they felt true. they are all just stories. so you get to choose which ones to let go of, and which ones to bring with you.
  15. if you want or need, you can leave behind other people's stories and ideas and beliefs too. even if you are told that they are about you, they aren't yours to carry.
  16. things that take and take and suck you dry, without giving anything in return. leave starvation.
  17. the past, however wonderful or horrible or blended it might have been. when you are ready. when it has taught you and changed you. when you have loved it, and it loved you back. when it is time. leave the past. and walk into this life, and the next life, and the next and the next.

"things to keep"
  -  (notes to self)

  1. what you found in the ocean. and in her arms.  and inside that night when what you most needed came and found you, before you even knew it existed.
  2. your voice. your yes. your no. 
  3. the memory of his squished face, when he was first born.
  4. keep the things that feed you.
  5. what remains. after the fire, the storm, the thing that changed everything. when so much was lost, there was still the thing which couldn’t be taken. keep that. it is a beautiful and strong foundation from which to rebuild a life.
  6. the meaning you choose to make.
  7. receipts and bank records and tax documents. for seven years. or so i’ve heard.
  8. a seat open at the table. a space open for unexpected things.
  9. keep telling each other the stories that have their own life, somehow more real in each retelling, becoming the family mythology. like the one about how she went to throw the inflatable ball into the swimming pool that afternoon at the campground, and forgot to let go, jumping into the deep end with the ball still in her hands. and how dad didn’t know how to swim and would drown himself if he jumped in. but he managed to take the net attached to a long pole, used to clean leaves out of the pool, and held it out to her and she grabbed on, and then he pulled her out. and no one knows for sure why we like this story so much, or tell it again and again, only that it feels somehow like part of the story of us.
  10. whatever that thread is, the one i can only seem to trace backwards, but that has been there, ahead, pulling me from there to here, that somehow connects one life to the next.
  11. the waffle house. and the tree house. and the house of belonging.
  12. a bottle of champagne chilled in the refrigerator for spur of the moment celebrations.
  13. keep music. and ice cream trucks. and post it note reminders on the wall that talk about love.
  14. the picture of us. when we were three and five, red and blond, birthdays wrapped around each other. the un-chosen charmed ones. 
  15. what you want. there are no rules here.