It's been five days since Eli's been on the road, traveling for his away games, and I'd be lying if I said I was doing okay. There's been a darkness around me, a heaviness on my shoulders since Thanksgiving weekend that I can't seem to shake. The sadness I feel has nothing to do with Eli being gone, though his absence hasn't helped, that's for sure. I was distracted and felt like myself for a couple of days, having him home with me until he left.
I'm used to being Eli's rock, his foundation to steady on when he needs to be centered. I'm the person who is there for him when his mind wanders to dark places. When he can't calm himself down, that's my job.
I've never once felt like I needed that from someone. I'm strong, and I've gone through hell and back in my life that's caused me to be able to stand on my own two feet, but something about the all-consuming grief that's been clouding my mind, lingering just outside, waiting to crash down on me, is making me feel like I need him more than I ever have before.
And I don't like that. I don't like needing anyone but me.
I had my first final today, and I'm pretty sure I bombed it. I've spent the last few days with my head in my books, but my mind couldn't retain the words on the pages. It's like it was too full of other swirling thoughts to add any more into the mix.
As if the thought of this week hasn't been weighing on me already, adding my final exams into the equation is almost enough to make me break.
As I'm lying in bed, trying to fall asleep early, hoping that a good night of rest will reset my mind, my phone starts vibrating on the nightstand.
I assume it's not Eli because I already told him I was going to bed early, but I don't know who else would be calling me.
I pick up the phone, seeing an unknown number flash across the top of the screen with my hometown's area code. A quick burst of panic runs through me, thinking it could be Zac, but changing his number or using someone else's to get ahold of me seems like a little much, even for him.
"Hello?" I quietly ask as I answer the unknown number.
"Hello. Is this Miss Leo?" A female voice questions.
"This is Southpoint Self Storage in Sonoma."
Fuck. I almost forgot about this.
"You have a storage unit with us that was prepaid for twelve months. We tried to run your card on file to renew your lease, but it was declined," the nice lady on the other end says.
"Shoot. I'm sorry about that. I moved across the country and got a new bank account. I forgot to update my card with you guys."
"Would you like to do it now?"
"How much time do I have to decide if I want it renewed?"
"You were paid through this week. We have a three-week grace period, so either the card needs to be charged by December thirty-first, or your storage unit needs to be cleared out. Otherwise, you'll lose the unit, including all assets inside."
"Okay. I'll make a decision this week and give you a call back. Thank you so much."
"Have a good night."
This is the last thing I need to deal with right now. On top of finals and the heaviness that is clearly creeping in, knowing what day Thursday is, having to decide on the storage unit might be the breaking point.
Part of me wants to let it all go. Let all the memories go with whatever is inside. Or I could pay another twelve months. Hold off on the inevitable mental breakdown that is sure to occur when I see what's in there. I have the money. I could do it.
But what good is it to keep putting it off? And I think I might hate myself one day down the road if I let it all go without going through it. Every single sentimental part of my childhood is in that locker. All my family pictures, parents' clothes, and anything worth keeping from their lives is in there.
I can't just get rid of it. As much as the two-thousand-mile distance has done as far as creating space between me and what happened to my mom last year, the fact is, it still happened. And everything I have left of her is in that storage unit, waiting for me to go through it.
When I decided to leave for Spain last year, I gathered anything meaningful to my life or my parents and shoved it in that storage unit. I never went through it. I just tucked it away. I couldn't process the emotions of what would come with touching my mom's old dresses or seeing pictures of my dad teaching me how to shoot a basketball, so I didn't. I hid it.
I had our family home renovated while I was overseas so that I could come back and sell it. The good thing was that when I walked back into that house after being gone for six months, I didn't recognize it. The colorful walls were now a stark white. The oven that my mom and I had once baked dozens of cookies in was long gone and replaced with a new shiny stainless steel one. The den where my dad and I had watched countless basketball games was now staged as a playroom for hopeful buyers.