One day I found myself in and amongst stacks and piles of accumulated treasures: uncompleted projects, clothes I was dieting to fit into (and occasions yet to come into where they’d be worn), books waiting to be read, even a little row boat, and no one showed up for moving day…except my boyfriend Bill. He was so ambitious, though once in a while he would stop to look out the window and ask, “Are you sure no one else is coming to help?”
We traveled back and forth through a tunnel of boxes with hefty armloads, until the space was emptied. Bill looked immensely relieved when it was over, so much so that it was difficult for me to interrupt with, “Now let’s do the basement.”
I led him down the stairs, and I turned to see his shoulders slumped and face pale white, and then he freaked out. It was the first, though not the last, of the very few times I would witness this kind-hearted gentle soul freak out. I pulled up a crate for him to sit on and brought him water. He sat there on that rickety crate in the dim light of a day long gone, piled in with all my stuff, and my heart broke. I felt terrible for not showing him the magnitude of our project to begin with. I wanted to believe he knew about the basement the whole time. Hadn’t he noticed before?
I looked around to see a gazebo and the boat and a juicer and a whole bunch of other things I hardly ever used. In order to save Bill from a full-fledged nervous breakdown, I began carrying the contents of my basement outside and piling it all to the curb.
Over the next few days, I saw people gather around outside my apartment to sort through the stuff. A light glowed on their faces if they found something they liked and they carried these objects away. Witnessing this caused me to question my decision and I was tempted to run after them to get it back. It was almost as if these objects had a consciousness and they were looking at me, pleading with me and were so sad that I had rejected them. They were panicked and worried about this new person they were going home with, but somehow I managed to turn away quickly and hold my ground.
I still think of that gazebo when I’m scorching in the heat of the desert, which is never (except for that one time, but I didn’t have the gazebo back then), and I still dream about that boat, tastefully tucked away in a spot in the backyard that I don’t have. The juicer was a total mistake, but I console myself by remembering that I didn’t like washing it and it took 12 carrots to make a half of cup of juice, which is silly. I like eating whole carrots now, not just the juice.
Now here and moved into another apartment, I notice this one is filling up just like the last one. I realize that keeping my belongings to a minimum is a process, both mental and physical and it’s linked to a disease that comes and goes. I want to source the irrationality that causes me to want to keep everything I find and learn to work with it.
To keep from ever experiencing a moving day nightmare again, I am beginning the process of elimination. I will take time every day to sort through a nook or drawer and decide what needs to go, and release it! It’s possible that someone out there will give the things I hardly ever use new life and meaning. Maybe this someone could be you. I will utter a wish with every box and bag that goes back out into the world, and the wish will be for that certain object to find its way to you, if you are indeed the one, who needs such a thing.
Anna, I read somewhere that people should pretend they are moving every three years and sort through their stuff to get rid of a bunch of it. My problem is it takes me three years to unpack after a move. I feel like “organize, sort, file” is at the top of a never-ending to-do list. Where does it all come from? (You’re not sneaking into my place while I sleep, are you?)
Ha! I don’t know Laurie, you should see my pen drawer. It’s like they all multiply in there or something.
Anna, I LOVE your blog! I just started with the most recent and worked my way down to here. I laughed out loud several times. This is life: tears, laughter, dancing, loss, moves, change, love. Embrace it all.
“some stories do not have a clear beginning, middle, and end. life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. delicious ambiguity…” – gilda radner
Love the quote, you always have the best quotes. Where do you find them? A compliment from you is an honor for me. Thank you.
I just realized my login name is not helpful to you: its Heather Mohan 🙂
Also, since I have moved so many times I also try my best to minimize clutter and create as much space as possible. Like many people, I find the clutter protective in many ways, so I allow myself a bit but have been simplifying more and more with each move. My rule that I instill as soon as I feel like I am getting too much clutter again is what I have coined “Exchange Mode”. Where everything I buy or am given will need to take the spot of something already in my home. This way I don’t keep accumulating but rather replace.
For example, I don’t buy more hangers. If I have purchased more than what fits in my closet after a wash day, I first take a few things of hangers or off the shelf in order to make room for the new. I find this works well and I can only lie to myself a little bit (you know by putting a few things off hangers and deciding that they can just live folded on the shelf instead). My closet is fairly small so it keeps me creative and honest.
Bill and I turned a whole bedroom into a closet. It’s true what they say about monsters living in them. When you come visit (you’re coming, aren’t you?) you will see for yourself. Thanks for the tip. If I can ward off the monsters, I will try that trick with the hangers.
I love the idea of embracing what is, rather than fighting it. maybe I will give that a try.