“A man is the sum of his memories, you know.”

In 2004, I left my hometown of Roanoke, VA behind to take a great IT job and build a new life for myself. The old life was pleasant but not really going much of anywhere. I don’t like stagnation, I don’t like living in a rut; if my near-fatal car accident over a decade before had tought me something, it’s that one ought to be doing *something* with one’s limited time on the Earth.

Well, in 2015 I left Hampton Roads, VA to take a great IT job and try to build a new life for myself. In the nine jobs and six living spaces in between, I sure hadn’t managed much stability, but I had certainly been doing something. Life had thrown at me more life-threatening physical illnesses, new loves, new friends and stronger bonds with older ones, a life-threatening mental illness; but most importantly, over a decade more of self-knowledge.

I’ve missed a lot of opportunities in the last eleven years, but I’ve also made some amazing things happen, and I understand myself better than I ever have. This self-knowledge (and let’s face it, some prescribed medication) makes the challenges of life a touch easier to take and gives me the chance to be a better person. It’s hard-won knowledge, though. I have the scars.

Yesterday I finished cleaning out the spare bedroom I’d slept in for four years before finding work here in North Carolina. With Maya’s help and a lot of elbow grease, I removed the last traces of my presence. It was like I’d never been there. In fact, now every place I’ve ever lived can make the same claim; besides the apartment I rent now, no living space says “Michael was here” in any meaningful fashion. I don’t like that; it’s unsettling.

But, if nothing else, it brings to sharp relief that it’s futile to look back. Keep moving forward, keep trying to do something with your days, keep working to improve and keep showing people you love them. That’s the biggest lesson taught to me by the last forty-six years.

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