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He’s freighted with two pairs of shoes, extra clothes that didn’t fit in the duffel, three sketchbooks, a camera, drawing pencils, a couple of books, a rent deposit for next fall, and film in a protective lead case.

My arms are empty, but I’m carrying an uncontainable mix of baby boy joy; the sweet smells of childhood; and cruddy, exhausting, hilarious teenage agonies freshly capped with some annoyance from this morning, when he insisted he was ready to go when most of what’s now stuffed in those two bags was still roaming the house, itinerant.

This he shouted over his shoulder at me as he scurried to retrieve it.

Headed down to security, he’s forgotten all that. He doesn’t carry any of that with him, because his head is full of where he’s going, not what’s already behind him. He has 50 pounds strapped to his body, but he steps as lightly as a lamb.

I love the way he never looks back. In part because he’s already gone.

Total Annarchy

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32 Responses to What We Carry

  1. Katybeth says:

    and takes you with him in your heart.


  2. Anonymous says:

    ….and takes your heart right along with him. So poignant. Even when Michelle comes home, she’s not home anymore. You know? Thanks for another nice one, Annie.

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  4. What you carry, no-one can see but you. And it’s wonderfully unique.

  5. Ireneross says:

    “What we carry” shows life as it is and the reader as the interpreter.

  6. He doesn’t have to look back because he knows you are always there for him. I feel it with Colleen as our relationship morphs to something different. I know she needs me but she needs to go now just as Evan does. 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep. Nicely said – and you’re right. What’s the point of looking back, right? He knows what he’ll see.

      I never knew I could be so thrilled and so sad in the same moment. That was yesterday, at the moment I took this photo.

  7. Mindy says:

    Great to see another Ann blog!!! I was missing them! (I know you had other fish to fry…) Yes, I can so relate to this one. Beautifully captured.

  8. David Reich says:

    Bautiful, Ann. I know the feeling.

  9. Matt Hawk says:

    This was one of my favorite writing exercises of a favorite professor in college. We read the book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Great book about a platoon in Vietnam, and about the things they carried. The exercise was simple, and similar to the obituary writing execise, in that there is more to the physical nature of carrying a thing; often times it’s an emotional weight as well. The objective of the lesson was when writing creatively there are a number of ways to tell your story. Nice post.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks, Matt. I thought of that book title as I titled this post. I never read the book, but had a sense that “carried” meant a few different kinds of burdens. Will need to check that out, I think.

  10. Jdelay1 says:

    Ann, nice post. Have been missing these!

  11. Always so happy to see a new post from Annarchy pop up in my Google Reader!

    A round-up of bike-related quotations I just posted on my blog ( included this one:

    The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.
    –Sloan Wilson

    • Anonymous says:

      Ooh. I kinda like that.

      It’s a wonder parents ever resist the urge to kick that bike over and root them permanently need us, huh? ; ) (I kid.. I kid…)

  12. Julie says:

    Thank you Ann. How do you do it? Number One son and I skied all day, I’m spent but he wanted to make a marble cake for Martin Luther King Day (yeah, marble for integration). So got off my sore and sorry ass and schlepped down to Hannafords. The Boy didn’t know that the marbling was added later. We now have a truly integrated King cake. We’ve been watching YouTube videos of PlayingforaChange. Lord, I will miss these moments.

  13. Peg M says:

    Hi Ann,

    So nice to see a post from Annarchy. I have a similar pic of my 11 year-old daughter, marching off into the middle school this past Sept., her 1st day off 6th grade, with a pink L.L. Bean book bag strapped on her back, which is almost bigger than she is. She looked back just once, a bit tentative, but so thrilled all the same.

    I know that I’ll have all the same feelings, a few years down the road, when I pass this similar, more permanent rite of passage. And that’s why I’m really glad I went sledding with all the kids, including the eleven-year-old, yesterday afternoon.

    Your post made me think of the kids’ infant carriers, too…and how heavy and light it was, at the same time…and how we’ll lug it around always, even if it’s not visible now.


  14. Been there, done that, but now have both daughters living at home again and suspect they’ll be here with us until they turn 30 or beyond. If you’re wishing for anything different, be careful what you wish for!

  15. Laurie Kinsman says:

    Nice work Ann. Seems like yesterday I was on the other end … and I DID look back. I saw the face you probably wore. And that was when I was 30 and moving from Nova Scotia to Vancouver (my mom’s apron strings are made of high tensile steel). Now I’m carrying lots of this stuff … and my guy’s only 7! We need you to keep your blog archives for another 11 years so we can refer back to it for advice (content rules inDEFinitely). Hope to see you in Boston/#mpb2b. Cheers.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This makes me look back at the time when I left home. I remember being in a rush to take on life. And now I prefer to savour the moments – as the rushing happens all too fast.

  17. Rhae Swisher says:

    It’s an interesting circle of life. They leave, but, never do. They come back, but really don’t. And depending on the age and stage of life we and OUR parents are in there is the possibility of a different leaving. And, what what we carry.

    Nice post Ann. Makes me think.

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  19. @CoachFloSchell says:

    I love this, Amy. So happy that he left with such lightness. This is beautifully written. I can identify deeply.

    Happy to have met you through The Franchise King. Hope to connect soon on Twitter.

    All best to you and to him,

    Flo Schell

  20. sonal says:

    Beautifully expressed, thanks and looking for more…

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