last days of 701

it has been a tiring three-day marathon of moving and cleaning, but i have finally settled down in 701 at last. z and i talked to CROUS, the student residence agency, on wednesday about my moving from 412 to 701, and they said that he would first have to have his état de lieu (i.e. inspection of the room) so he could check out, before i could have my état de lieu, check out, and move into his room. preparing for the état de lieu essentially meant that we had to clear out everything in the room and have it completely clean for the cleaning lady to come and inspect at a scheduled time. this took roughly 5 – 7 hours for each of our rooms, as first we first had to move all his stuff out from his place into mine, before moving all of it back up again to his ex-room. my new room.

we had roughly 3 years’ worth of clothes, books, CD’s, magazines and assorted household appliances between us. moving was probably the hardest part about the whole thing, not because it was physically tiring per se but because it was so emotionally draining. this was espcially true for z and his room, because he had so much stuff with so many memories attached to everything. we sorted through his scattered collection of greeting cards, postcards, ticket stubs and papers that were lying around the room, took his 92137681 posters off the walls and packed away all his little gifts and souvenirs. stripping the room bare of his stuff was already an uncomfortable process for me, so i can’t imagine how he must have felt to have wiped all surfaces clean of his trace. maybe he didn’t actually feel a lot because he never said anything, but to me it felt like we were skinning his memories alive, extracting his presence from the room. his room.

people really do accumulate a lot of junk over the years, but no matter how useless they seem at face value, they carry the weight of so many memories that you always end up being loathe to throw them away. we both commented that we should really abstain from collecting so much junk for the rest of our unsettled lives, yet at the same time it was extremely sweet to see his old photographs surface here and there and to read all the little messages people have written to him over the years. little zhiheng at 13 years was small. he had no pimples and had the round innocent boy-face of a loved child.

i was pretty affected by it all. i felt like an insignificant bubble floating around in the vast ocean of his life. i saw so many unfamiliar faces, at which he smiled at seeing again. i caught glimpses of all these people who had written him to wish him happy birthday and merry christmas, to thank him for being a great friend and to wish him all the best for his future in France. it’s funny how all the things your friends share with you become obsolete so quickly. the young man i know is not the same boy in those photographs or the same friend mentioned in all his greeting cards. the young man i know is 22 this year and will be spending his Christmas in Boston. one would no longer wish him all the best in France, but all the best in Harvard.

moving out of my room was nothing. i gave z the most part of myself over the last 10 months, and there was little left in 412 that reminded me of myself. my life was a part of his 923618712 posters, his messy pools of clothes and underwear on the floor, his blue toilet mat, his sofa, his Telfan pots and pans, his herbs and spices, his 71827533 CD’s and The Economists and Newsweeks, his debate notes, his clothes, his broken comb, his oral-B toothbrush, his red I AMsterdam bag, his slippers, his Victorinox bag, his bedsheets… for months, i have felt more at home in 701 than anywhere else in the world. halfway through moving out of his room, i just started crying.

all our stuff is in 701 again. this time, including everything from 412. and even some things of andreas’s, which he will move next door to his new room in july. the kitchen is still his and the wall by the bed is his, but the closet, shelves and table tops have been replaced with my junk. come wednesday, the mess on the floor belonging to him will be gone and so will he. finals will continue and the days will keep passing. my grades will be average because i’ve probably failed PSSA as a result of stress from recent activities and because team exposés this year have been mediocre.

i woke up today filled with a lot of insecurity left over from a bad dream. i wondered if i had given too much of myself to him and invested too much emotion in us. i fear that i have been the biggest fool for letting us go so far and becoming the clingy, vulnerable one now. there was a time when z was the one who probed for security and when k really did equal z-1, but maybe now our roles have reversed and i will feel all the worse for it when he packs his bags to leave.

i don’t really know how to deal with us right now, much less the finals. i have a history paper tomorrow and 300 years’ worth of events to cover, but the only history that my mind will fixate on is the recent past i have shared with my disappearing boyfriend.


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