The past is the past. You need to let go. How many times have people said that? How many times have you had to listen to those words? At first, it's so annoying. You can't even think about letting go. How could you? How could you let go of part of your life? It seems just impossible. But then something happens. What is it?
Well, it's just that. Time passes. Yes, simple as that. That same thing that felt impossible a while back, now it starts to make sense. You can't realize the exact moment when this happens, though. It would be nice to know, huh? Know how much you need to suffer before start thinking about a new life. Sometimes the past returns, but you are now ready to face it: it's painful, of course, but you're ready to confront it because you are healed. And, most of all, you are ready to move on. The past isn't scary, anymore. All those stuff you thought you couldn't deal with, now are perfectly manageable.
How? Because the past IS the past. Just like that.
The beach house was empty and silent. It had never been so quiet, before. It seemed like that the ghosts of the past were gone for good. The photographs were still on the walls but they were so anonymous now. The only noise I could hear was the waves of the sea crashing on the beach: even my thoughts were quiet.
It's been a year since the last time I was there; I couldn't put a foot in that house before. I was so scared of all those memories!
Scared of what, exactly? I'm asking myself now. It doesn't make any sense. Looking at the photos, I felt a quick surge of nostalgia, sadness even, but it passes in one second. I was so happy in that picture! I remembered the day but it seems like another life, another person. Those days are blurred, it's such an odd feeling.
I left the doorway with all the memories and pictures and turned on the lights in the kitchen. Everything was perfectly neat and clean. More memories come to my mind: so many birthday parties were spent there. I could see those moments, like rewinding an old movie. The laughs and the happiness hit me, and that feeling of sadness came back again for a second.
“No!” I said at loud. The past is the past, remember? Everything I lived in that house made me the person I am now. “You must be proud of your past. Letting go doesn't mean to forget”. My therapist used to say this to me, even though I wasn't sure of the real meaning, at that time. Now I know what she meant and she was right. I am proud of my past because it taught me so much. I'm talking about the bad things and the good ones; because everything is important.
That house symbolized my past and facing it was the scariest thing I needed to do. The memories of my old life were everywhere, not just in the pictures: every single room of that house reminded me of what I used to have, what I'm now leaving behind. Moving forward is as difficult as letting go. That silent beach house was talking to me and telling me that I was ready. Ready to move on.
The sound of the sea was still there with me, taking me company on that journey.
In the dining room, I saw a few boxes left on the floor with various things inside: photos, sweaters, a blanket.
He told me that he had already collected all my things, and there they were. So many years spent together in that house gathered in a few boxes. “Okay,” I said, taking the first box from the ground.
My steps resounded in the silence of the house, the only other sound around me. The beach house was such a joyful place; now it looked so sad. Maybe it was the winter, too. But mostly it was the awareness that those moments would never return.
It is what it is, I was thinking. It was so difficult to stay focused on the present. There were a total of six boxes full of my stuff. Things I also had forgotten. How is possible to forget about something that used to be so important to you once? The answer is still the same. Time passes and everything assumes new significance.
Pictures, objects, various kinds of stuff were a real proof that I used to be another person. I used to be happy in that house. I saw a long-term future there, with him. My mind was starting to be filled with all the happy memories I tried so hard to let go of. Why accept that everything was gone it was suddenly so difficult? I was fine when I arrived. What changed? Well, that's an easy question. My mind was wandering around that house and every single room was bringing a new memory. So many movies were watched on that TV. So many times, we made love in the bedroom. How many meals I've made on that kitchen counter? How many times I've spent whole afternoons in front of that window, watching the waves crashing on the beach in front of the house.
When the last box was in the car, I wasn't ready to say goodbye to that place. The doubts were everywhere in my mind. Was I really ready to come back here?
“Okay. Deep breaths” I said myself, at loud.
Inhale. Exhale. In. Out. And again, another time.
Breathing was helpful and my lungs were full of salty air. “Remember. It's just a house. It's just the past. Now you're a different person. A better person, for yourself” I said myself. It was true, but it was so difficult to realize, at that moment. I couldn't return to the present. The past swallowed me in that horrible vortex of memories and sadness. I needed to get out but I didn't know how to.
Then, the present came back. A simple text helped me return to myself.
"Hey, baby. I hope everything's okay. Take your time. I will be here when you finish, waiting for you at home. I miss you."
And just like that, the past returned to be the past.