I’ve been unpacking all the boxes that have been in storage for the last few months. After the basement flooded last October we wrestled with contractors and insurance folks until finally March rolled around and this time carpenters flooded my house instead of water. They tore everything out and then built it back up again, better than it was before to be honest. It was all Bionic Man over here. Now the previously finished, then flooded basement is again finished and it’s lovely, I’ll tell you.
The unpacking is happening now.
This past weekend I sorted through the books and the plastic guns and the random things that lived in drawers in that basement before the flood and then in boxes while the repair happened. I was given some advice that I ought to throw out anything I didn’t miss in those 6 months it was all packed away in the storage locker and I considered that. I really did. I went into the unpacking with this in my head at least on some level but as I got into the boxes I found it hard to commit to let things go.
To keep myself motivated and maybe entertained I put some video music channel on the TV and I sifted through my stuff. I would paw through a box, thinking about letting go and dump it all back in. Unsure of why it was so hard to give things up. It was then that this live version of Jason Mraz in Hong Kong singing “Lucky” with a young singer named Gem came on the television. The audience was excited when she came on. They were enthusiastic when they recognized the song but they went crazy when in the second verse Jason Mraz shifted from English to Mandarin.
And that got me to thinking about language and about connection while I sorted through all the familiar things before me.
It was striking to see that connection played out right there in front of me on the television. I imagined then what it must be like to be standing there hearing a favorite artist singing a favorite song then suddenly being aware that he is speaking in the language of the land, the language I know the best. It was as though he reached through the crowd and grabbed hold of the listener saying, “I know you. I know who you are.”
We want to be known.
I thumbed through the many pages of kid art work I’ve kept, the receipts, the piles of photos and the dusty and abandoned scrapbooking gear. It takes a long time to pack and unpack and repurpose and redistribute stuff because I just have to put my hands on it. Here was the language of the land, here was the connection. We want to be known.
I watched Jason Mraz and that lovely Chinese singer and I felt lucky because I realized that all the stuff in these boxes told the story of me, the story of my children, the story of my marriage. This etched glass was from Dave’s mother. This book came to me through a friend. This pile of drawings came from Miles. This scrapbook, unfinished but optimistic shows photos of births and old houses and first steps. This box of old LPs, this set of plastic army soldiers, this box filled with board games, each was a treasure, each a story, a flood of memory, a roar of recognition.