There was nothing I hated more in college than dissecting a piece of literature, only to focus primarily on symbolism.
Well, that's a lie. I hated self-absorbed frat boys, woo girls who thought shouting down the street at 2 AM was a viable option, and the skyrocketing cost of tuition more -- but the overuse of symbolism is definitely up there on the list.
I hate James Joyce with a passion because of this. Every little action was symbolic of a greater, more abstract theme. He searched to buy her a gift; it's symbolic of getting closer to God! The snow is falling on fresh spring grass; it's symbolic of dashed hopes! He took a massive dump in the toilet; it's symbolic of...release! To me, symbolism is the tambourine in the band. A wonderful accent to an established ensemble, but not worth getting the primary spotlight.
The same cannot be said about real life. Maybe it's because I'm sentimental like that, but I love finding symbolism and deeper meanings in my day-to-day events.
For example, it rained on my last day teaching. I had ridden my bike to work on a clear, sunny morning, only to see the skies turn gray. I was disheartened, I was annoyed...only to see my husband in the parking lot, with my bike already strapped to the trunk. Suddenly, I was okay that it had rained, because my husband showing up out of no where to save the day was really symbolic of my entire time as a teacher (truth be told, my burnout would've been a lot sooner had I not had my husband to keep me level).
There are other things that seem more sentimental than symbolic, but I love them all the same, for their deeper meaning to me. Take, for instance, a little chocolate shop in a tiny town in Western New Hampshire. We would roadtrip up to New Hampshire constantly when we lived in the Boston area. We would essentially go north and see where it took us. And we found some amazing places as a result: an incredible hibatchi restaurant, a lovely little pet store with puppies you could just scoop up and play with, and a chocolate shop that stole our heart from day one. After finding this shop, every road trip eventually brought us to that town, even if we were on the eastern half of New Hampshire. Cut to nearly 3 years later, and we're hiring them to do our wedding favors.
Or, for instance, a seemingly unassuming IMAX theatre. We stumbled upon a side route during one of our road trips and found an IMAX theatre just a few miles from the main highway. It was getting late, but we decided to cap off our day with a movie before going all the way home.
Nearly five years later, and we drive by the IMAX theatre on a constant basis. Because it is not even 5 minutes away from our new home.
Again, no symbolism. Perhaps foretelling. Either way, I love the dichotomy: this was a movie theatre that we found while wandering around, and now it is a landmark to signal just how close we are to our home.
The movers come today, and heavens knows I'm starting to fret about it. We've been putting in the overtime to get everything ready, and we're still a bit behind (which I thank the painters for). We never got a chance to assemble the baker's rack I got for dirt cheap off Craigslist. We still have to finish painting the purple trim in the former-neon-yellow room. And we still have no idea what we're doing in terms of new window treatments (and it's going to be a son of a bitch installing blinds with the sectional in the way. But I'm excited for this new chapter. I'm excited to pass by that IMAX theatre one more time and know that I am home.