The Unbearable Lightness of Boxes

“The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”

I mentioned yesterday that I paid almost 21 dollars for three empty boxes from UPS. Upon packing them full of nothing but clothes, sheets, towels (all light things) I think each amounted to weigh between 10 and 20  lbs. (they were pretty sizable boxes). I tried to come up with a calculation of what to expect price-wise, and if an empty box that probably weighs roughly a pound costs 6.50 or so, a box that weighs about 16 would have cost me 104 dollars. Was I really looking at paying 312 dollars for shipping!? Without enough suitcases and besides, more than 2 with southwest (which is the best to use if you don’t want to be charged too much for bags) still costs $50 extra a bag, I figured I had no other choice but to pay what’s asked. I wish I could have just thrown it all out, but it was all stuff that I wanted to keep. What will be must be, and as Kundera writes, ‘Es Muss Sein’!

I paid 45 dollars. How is that possible that 3 empty boxes costs roughly half of what three huge boxes stuffed with ‘stuff’ costs?

I was pretty livid about paying so much for so little- the empty boxes, but delighted when what seemed like a huuuuuge burden to me (I had to walk down 6 flights of stairs, then a few blocks, drop off the box, then climb the stairs again to get box number two- and repeat again for box three because I could only carry one at a time- my forearms definitely got their work out today, as did my hamstrings from all the stairs) was so much less than what I expected to pay. And I suppose the same principle can be related to New York- when you give a lot, you expect to get a lot and since I was paying so much to live here I expected to have a rich life that felt worth the weight of my monthly rent responsibility. This city is clearly just that to a lot of people, but at this point in my life, not to me.

I love Kundera’s ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ but I hate it when people ask me what it’s about. I know there is supposed to be some Nietzsche theory at work here, something about the weight of making decisions, if history is always repeated or we’re always fated in our choices or something along those lines. But that isn’t what I really remember from the book- what I remember is a lot of f*cked up relationships (a cheating husband, a kind of sad lost wife, a free-spirit mistress in a bowler hat) and kind of commitment each has to another person, pet, job, hobby, etc. To me, and Kundera might hate me for this, the book is more about the lightness associated with freedom from resposnsibitily- and is that really better than the heaviness of a life with a more taxing job? Is it better to have a life filled with one-night stands and brief encounters rather than a long friendship/marriage where you start to feel more accountable to another person and responsible for their well-being?

Me and katie- age 17, right before the ‘cheesepuff’ incident- don’t ask

The minute Emily quoted Ace Ventura at the job fair at Butler, I knew we were meant to be best friends!

“He suddenly recalled from Plato’s Symposium: People were hermaphrodites until God split then in two, and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another. Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.”

I’m not going to tackle human relationships here- I don’t have the answers at all. As far as work goes, I think I’d rather have a job that I hate and that’s tiring and takes a lot of out me but I feel good about doing rather than  a job I hate that’s easy and I don’t feel like I’m doing anything of substance; example- one summer I taught 3-5 year olds from 9 to 3 for about 2 months and everyday I wanted to be locked in a QUIET  padded room by the end of the day (I have no patience and that kind of super-happy energy that it takes to reason with a 3 year old. Plus I hate saying nothing but ‘wow!’ “good job!’ “stay in line!’ all freakin’ day long)- but I would take that over serving drinks even though the money is better, I don’t get finger paint on my cocktail dresses, and it takes far less physical, emotional, and mental energy (not to say that it doesn’t take a lot of patience to be in the service industry either- I actually was reprimanded once for being ‘too sassy’ to an old man who offered me 1,000 dollars if I’d give a BJ- I guess I just figure dealing with a screaming child who doesnt’ get their favorite color crayon is more acceptable than a drunk old horndog who SHOULD know better, even if he does offer to put a condom on first- how sweet! ugh, Gag me. On second thought, don’t.)

I wasn’t really  happy before I came to New York either, because in my hiatus between New Jersey/ New York I don’t feel like I was doing anything to contribute- I mean, I saw a lot of doctors and took time to get myself back on track but I wasn’t working particularly hard at anything besides my own health. Maybe I’m just a huge snob, but I feel like I have a lot more to offer than just being a healthy consumer without putting something more creative back into the universe. for whatever reason, dancing tends to make me feel as if I’m serving some kind of purpose. It’s sort of  how I feel about my wishes that I just wanted to throw everything out and not have to pack my boxes, I often wish I didn’t like dancing. I will never make a good living, I will be on a constant diet, and forever sore as a dancer. It might sound crazy to say that my need to dance isn’t completely self-serving, but I sort of feel like it’s charitable work. I heard a quote recently about talent- don’t remember who said it- that talents are special gifts given that we are supposed to use to make things better, or something like that. I think one of the best and most memorable moments of my life came when I was 14, and dancing in the ballet ‘Coppelia’ with Alexandra Ballet Company.

me- age 14

I performed the solo ‘prayer’ in the 3rd act, where the two principal characters are getting married. The choreography was thanklessly hard, the music kind of slow and boring, but I remember one rehearsal in particular where my teacher, Ms. A, who is a wonderful person but a hard one to get a compliment out of, told me that I would make people cry (in a good way, not like an onion or say, Lindsay Lohan). And in that moment I had one of those ‘this is what I’m supposed to be doing’ kind of feelings.  An unbearably light existence to me is one where life may be easy, the money may be good, but I don’t feel any value in how I’m living. And as far as relationships go, I would rather challenge my patience around family and friends that mean the world to me than get to write off or ignore every acquaintace I make who gets on my nerves.

Mom, Grandma, Dad

I know I’m not easy to deal with myself, so if I have to bite my tongue when I see girlfriends deal with crap from undeserving boys or listen to my dad slurp his soup at dinner (and he does!) then Es Muss Sein (after all, I know I’ve been there too and they have stuck by me). I’d rather work really hard for something/someone I love than breeze through without caring. I could throw out a lot of cliches about how responsibility keeps a person ‘grounded’- well I guess I just did.  Sorry!

I’m going to stop typing soon, my arms are actually sore. Even if it completely stunk having to carry those boxes around, I know I will be glad to have them when I’m home and at any rate, I bet I’ll get just a little stronger from this -which is good because I packed all of my heavy stuff in my suitcases and I have to carry them down the stairs tomorrow!) Wah! Where’s my servant when I need one?

The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”

P.S.- I apologize to my two best friends for calling them previous Hermaphrodites- nothing personal

2 thoughts on “The Unbearable Lightness of Boxes

  1. Hermaphro-what? Don’t worry! I’ve read that essay 😀 Can’t wait to finally see you again, even if your arms will be too sore to hug.

  2. who said anything about ‘previous’

    thank you for being you and sticking with me even when I slurp my soup.

    I guess I choose weight. I’d rather have my feet on the ground.

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