What with Dan in Tanzania, and my impending departure from New York City, I’ve been contemplating absence: a state or period of being away. My friend Brandon sent me a link to Garfield Minus Garfield , a site that reconfigures the original comic strip with the cat erased. What you’re left with is eerily existential. According to its creator, Garfield’s absence shifts the focus from funny to “schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life.”
Yes, life is strange and mysterious. I feel like I’m standing with a rumpled, raised pant leg and a pseudo-silence, a shimmer in the air where just this weekend Dan was but now isn’t. Soon New York will be an invisible paw, too.
I’ve never lived with a boyfriend before, nor have I ever had to fit everything I own into a Honda Civic. I’ve decided to ship books Media Mail, cram essential furniture and clothes into Dan’s car, and toss out the rest. This means I’m not only thinking about the absence of my Safari-Lover (a nickname that might stick) and my dear dear city, but my possessions. The wake of things. Maybe absence implies a hope of return while getting rid of stuff is just loss, plain and simple. It’s absence stripped down to the bare bones of gone.
Because it’s different, really, tossing the tangible. Dan will return in ten days. I’ll visit Brooklyn come Fall. When again will I ever see my desk? Or Bo’s bookcase from Georgia? Do I need a 1995 address book? An unopened jar of honey from my cousin’s wedding four years ago (Our Love is Sweet)? A half-assed seashell collection that somehow includes a puppy’s tooth? Old birthday cards? The movie stub to Maid in Manhattan? What about stuffed animals? Or a leaky hookah? These take up space. So does my bike. Should I sell my pink bike and get a new one? And then there’s the question of my Beta fish, Okiedokey, who’s long been circling his own life like a spent vulture. He can hardly rise to the surface for food anymore. I bought sinking wafers so he wouldn’t have to work so hard at eating. Do I transport Okiedokey 900 miles?
Today is day two of Danzania (hence the turtle doves) and while cleaning out the cabinet under the bathroom sink, I came across a half-used Dove 2-in-1 Moisture Therapy, picked it up, and hovered it over the garbage, not quite able to throw it out, not quite able to box it, either. The second verse to “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was running through my head, and then 2-in-1 became both a metaphor for moving in with someone and a lesson in reducing your shower crap (instead of deliberating over a shampoo and a condition you can just deliberate over one bottle, see!) Dove is still in the bathroom, confusing me.
I feel like a turtle, asked to carry my house on my back, simultaneously liberated and scared. I want to take nothing. Then I really really really want my cumbersome dusty statuette of James Joyce. Right now I’ll settle for this poem.