Samunnat Shrestha 

I don’t know where to start from. I don’t know what to include and what to exclude. I don’t know what is important and what is not. I don’t know what enough is. Around 3 years back, I asked one of my friends Adam one question, “How can you fit in your life in a couple of luggage bags? How can you fit the entire things that you have collected throughout your life in a luggage?” This was a question I had raised to him when he was moving from New York to Missouri with his two luggage bags. I do not remember what he answered me at that time because I had assumed that it was almost impossible to do so. But today after three years I am in the same position where I have to pack my stuff in my luggage bags so that I can move to a friend’s apartment from my mom’s place. And I am here still wondering how I can make this possible, how I can fit all my stuff?

Well I thought that as I start packing it, I might get the answer or maybe not.

I started with my clothes. Dress, Casual wears, summer clothes, winter clothes, workout clothes…..It is a Hercules task for a girl to select the clothes and pack it. I remember my husband Evan once telling me “Sylvia, do you even wear half of the clothes that you buy? Well, I used to ignore his question and continue buying clothes. Today I realize he was kind of right because there are so many clothes that I have never worn, but yes I definitely would like to have them with me regardless of the fact that I wear it or not.

When I was going through my old clothes in the drawer, I found one old picture of me and my friend Vanessa. Vanessa is one of the oldest and closest friends I have. She has been with me through my thick and thin. She got married two months back on June 14th. It is very strange and a great irony that the happiest day of my best friend’s life turned out to be the worst day of my life. Yes, June 14th is that black day of my life which I can never forget even though I really want to forget it.

June 14th, I and my husband Evan was driving to Seattle to attend Vanessa’s wedding. It is around 4 hours’ drive from our place to reach the venue of Vanessa’s wedding. While driving to Seattle we were discussing on a topic which we had been discussing almost every day for past couple of months. Both I and my husband wanted to move to Seattle and settle there. We had decided to search a new job, buy a new house and start a new life there. Buying house was one of the most challenging part of the move for us. Even though we had saved some money to buy our house, we thought it was not enough for us to buy a decent house and start a new life in a new place. Both I and my husband have had a decent job for the past 3 years. I have been able to save some money, but my husband was really struggling in that and the interesting thing is that he earned more than I did. Even though we had been married for more than 6 years, one thing that I had never been able to understand was how and where my husband spent money on. Whenever I asked this question to him, we either had a heated argument or a fight that would make us not talk with each other for several days. Unfortunately or fortunately I ended up asking the same question to him that day while we were driving to Vanessa’s wedding. And this time I was pretty adamant on getting the answer.

“Evan I need to know where all the money goes. I really need to know this” I asked him. “You make more than I do from your job. In fact, you have a part time job too. I understand that you have student loans and payments to make every month. But still, I think you should be saving lot more than what you have been saving. As a matter of fact, you always tell me that you are broke. Have you really been saving for our move? I sometimes even doubt that…tell me to have you really been saving any?”

He did not respond to any of my questions, and I was even more curious to know two things. First and foremost if he had been saving for our house or not and secondly where was he spending all his money at…

Even though we had been married for past 7 years, one thing that we had never done was checking into each other’s bank statements and transactions. Surprising it is right? But yes it is a fact. It is a right of husband and a wife to see each other’s bank account. In fact, it is a right of a husband and wife to know about every small detail of each other’s lives. But unfortunately, this did not apply to our lives. And for some reason that day, I wanted to use that “right” of mine. I wanted to know every small detail of his life.

“I need to see your bank statements”, I said to him. It was after I said that, he broke his silence and said, “Stop it, Sylvia, what is wrong with you today? Why are you acting crazy?” I simply replied, “If trying to know what a wife needs to know about husband’s life is craziness, then yes I am crazy and today I will make sure that I will take my craziness to the point where I will get all the answers that I am seeking for”. As soon as I said that Evan speeds up the car. I could see his mixed emotions: anger, anxiousness, restlessness, and defensiveness. A part of me was saying that maybe it was not the right time to discuss those things. But a larger part of me wanted to sort things out then and there. So I insisted him on showing me his bank details. And after asking repeatedly he got annoyed or rather helpless and said: “Well there are few things which you might not want to see in those bank statements”. I told him “What is that? Tell me. Are you dating someone?”. “No” was his reply. “Then what is it?” I asked. After few seconds of pause, he said “If you really want to listen to this, ok let me tell you. I have been spending money on Sluts. I have been going to strip clubs very often and spending thousands of dollars on strippers. I haven’t been loyal to you for past couple of years”. I then could not utter a word. I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked. I was speechless. I was numb. Even though the car was moving at the speed of 80 mph, I felt that everything around me was motionless, was still. Not only I was shocked but more than that I was disgusted. May be he was surprised to see me not reacting or getting mad at him the way he had expected it. He then said “I think we should not live together now. I think I should not be with you in your friend’s wedding. Let me stop somewhere. You go ahead and attend the wedding I will return back home.” After I heard him saying that, even before getting a chance to yell at him or get mad at him, a larger part of me thought that we could work it out. A larger part of me wanted to save our relationship. I told him “We can discuss this later, right now let’s go to the wedding. Everything has a solution, so we can work on this too”. He must have been totally surprised to hear this. But he was silent and continued driving. There was a pin drop silence for next 10 minutes. He could not utter a word and I did not want to. After about 10 minutes, he stopped at the gas station and said “I think everything is over now. You will be happier without me and you deserve a better person than me. I am leaving.” In my entire life, I had never felt the way I felt at that moment. I knew that I had to be mad at him, I knew that I was supposed to be the one to kick him out of the car. But it was him who wanted to go back. I knew he did that because he could not face me anymore. He did not have guts to deal with me anymore or maybe he was ashamed of himself. But it was very surprised that I still did not want to let him go, so I again told him that this can still be worked out if he wants to. But maybe his level of guilt was too high or maybe he really did not want to stay with me anymore, he decided to go back. He just left the car and walked out. I did not know what to do. I wished I could go back home instead of going to the wedding. But again the home would not be the same for me, so I did not want to go home. Also, I did not want to make Vanessa feel bad by not attending her wedding. So I finally decided to drive towards Seattle by myself. It was evening time. Sun was about to set both for the day and for my married life…..

“Sylvia take this bible with you”, I heard my mom’s voice while I was almost done packing my clothes. It is so strange that even after two months when I remember that day I feel numb and lost…. A part of me wished that I could tell my mom that I had lost faith in everything, even in God and Karma. But a larger part of me still had faith in my mom’s faith, I still believed in her love, so I quietly took the bible and put it my luggage along with few other books. I was moving to my friend’s place as it was close to my current work. And I would stay there until I find a new job in Seattle and move for good. So I had decided to take only a few things that I need every day and the things that were close to my heart, my personal notebook being one among them. As I turned the pages of my notebook randomly, I saw something that was so special to me.

OUR LOVE

Our love is a masterpiece,
And treatment of time,
Our hearts are filled with melody,
That can’t escape from rhyme.
Our love is intoxicating
Addictive till the end!
It opens doors I never knew
Could cause my heart to mend.
Our love is my dream that came true
Inspiring each day!
Motivating me to conquer
Fears and hardships my way!
Our love is unsurpassable
To others that may try
But they will find they cannot reach our mountain way up high!
Our love is so precious to me
Because it is so rare
So blessed we are to know true love
And so how much we care!

This was a poem I had written for Evan on last Valentine’s Day. Only if I could have foreseen the future, this poem would have never been created. Drops of tears rolled from my eyes and I told myself “I will not be able to Love anyone again, I will not write for anyone again”. I wish I could tear that page from my notebook, but I decided not to because it was my creation, my pure love which I did not want to trash for a person who does not deserve it. I kept my notebook into my luggage.

I was putting my shoes into my luggage, my mom brings a couple of photo frames and asks me if I wanted to take them with me. It was our wedding pictures, our honeymoon pictures. “Mom I only want to take good memories with me, not the bad ones. I can’t deny that those days were the best days of my life. But at the same time when I see Evan in those memories, I realize that it was the biggest mistake of my life. You can throw away those pictures. I don’t understand why you brought them from Evan’s house.” I said her.

Those picture frames also remind me of the day when I witnessed the extreme inhuman and insensitive act of Evan. The day when I returned back home from Vanessa’s wedding. When I opened the door of my house, I was totally shocked to see all the photo frames taken off from the wall. They were all lying on the couch lifeless and hopeless like our relationship. When I asked him about it, he simply said “His house had no place for those pictures. In fact, he also said that his house had no place for me. He asked me to collect all my stuff within a week and leave his home. As such, I had to move temporarily to my mom’s place. I had to leave the place (within a week) where I had set up my life, where I had set up my dreams for last 7 years. To make that house into a home, it took me 7 years but to undo that I only had 7 days!!!

After spending several hours I was almost done packing my stuff into my luggage. I did put some of my family picture frames, some of the picture frames with my friends. My mom was still trying to go through all my stuff that I had put in her storage room and making sure that I took everything that I needed. While I was about to zip my luggage bag, my mom brought a sheet of paper that she found and gave it to me. I took it from her thinking that it must be another of my stupid love filled notes for Evan. Apparently, it was not.

It was a wedding vow that Evan had written for me on our wedding day.

“Every man wants the woman of their dreams. No woman in my dreams could have never compared to you, Sylvia. You are better than I could have dreamt or could even think of……………………………………………………………………………………….We were in church and I remember your friend Vennessa telling you that we should get married. Now that we are on our big day and our love has grown more than anyone could possibly imagine………Today I swear to stick by these vows and promise to uphold everything. I am telling you forever as your husband and as you being my soul mate and the love of my life”.

After I read it, my mom with tears in her eyes said “I know you don’t need or want this anymore. Let it be here in my storage”. I then smiled and told her “Mom I think I might need this. I might need this to remember that how a man’s vow can be meaningless within few years. I might need this to remind myself that I need to be careful in trusting any man’s promise, any man’s vow. Mom this is a learning lesson from my wedding, a lesson that has taught me not to trust a man easily. So I will take this with me”. My mom gave me a surprised look while I put that “Vow” into my luggage.

So I finally completed my packing. And to my surprise, I was able to fit most of my important stuff in my luggage bags. It did fit my basic necessities, my old memories, my mom’s faith, my experiences and my learnings. “How can someone fit his life in a couple of luggage bags?” I believe I have got my answer now. All I needed to do was keep only the things those were valuable to me and throw away the things that meant nothing to me and my life…………

November 2014

Today after four months, early in the morning, I am carrying same luggage bags and driving to Seattle for my new job, for my new life. While I am driving I am passing through the same place where me and Evan had an argument six months back, I am driving through the same highways where we fought, I am passing through the same gas station from where we walked in different directions. The paths are still the same but the journey is different today. I had a company of my husband back then but still I felt the incompleteness, the loneliness and the suffocation. But today though I am by myself, I feel that I am complete, I feel that I am self-sufficient and most importantly I feel that I am FREE. The sun was setting back then but today the sun is rising, illuminating the rays of light, the rays of hope……….

Every year when my best friend Vanessa will be celebrating her wedding anniversary, I will be celebrating it too as my “Independence Day”. The day which gave me the truth, the day which set me free, the day which gave me the new purpose of my life.