I’ve moved 3 times since leaving the “house formerly known as home” – a way stop at my parents’ for 3 weeks until I moved into the snowbird’s for 5 months and then back to my parents’ for (hopefully only) 5 months. Moving 3 times within 6 months to places where I can only have a subset of my “stuff” has taught me a few things.
#1: I don’t need much to live a happy life.
When I was preparing to become a temporary nomad, I made a decision to only bring my clothes, some of my linens, and basic everyday possessions with me. A select number of things that I use very frequently – like my 8″ pan, favorite spatula, and immersion blender to make my daily banana pancake – came with me. Things that I used occasionally – like various sized pots and board games – were packed away into storage.
Granted, both places I’ve moved to have been homes that are already set up with functioning kitchens and bathrooms, etc. But it was surprising to me how little I missed my “stuff.” So much so that, aside from furniture and dog gear, I’m having a hard time thinking of what I have in storage that I’d “need.” Sure, when I leave a furnished house for a place of my own, I’ll need cooking supplies and such. But I’ve got about a dozen boxes in storage and I am wondering how much of it will actually prove useful.
On weeks that I don’t have the dogs, I frequently end up packing an even smaller subset of my things to stay with Dave. It takes a little planning to have my entire work week wardrobe (say that three times fast) picked out and I’ve occasionally found myself really wishing I had a particular item, but mostly one small suitcase has provided more than I need.
#2: I still have too much stuff!
When I was splitting up and packing up stuff in preparation for moving out, I did a lot of purging. I’m talking about right down to “If these dress socks has a really thin heel, there’s no point in taking it with me, I’ll buy a new pair when I need them.” Clothes I liked but never wore, books I knew I wouldn’t read again, random bits of personal flotsam that had collected due to indecision. Dozens (hundreds?) of things trashed or donated. I ended up with a huge box for Goodwill that, come to think of it, was practically coffin sized and felt like moving a dead body. RIP Married Julia.
In short, I left the house feeling like I’d cut out the excess and packed light. But in March, when I was stuck on crutches watching other people move my stuff, I realized I still had more than I needed. Even more than I needed for this little nomadic version of life.
Since moving back into the “in-law suite” at my parent’s, I’ve challenged myself to get rid of even more:
I spent a night going through toiletries – which had been pruned before I moved last year! – and got rid of even more “just in case” items or lotions I didn’t really like but thought I’d use up. The awesome gun metal silver nail polish I bought in 2001? Sure, I still love the color, but I’m pretty sure the liquid is a bit chunky by now. The eensy weensy hair clips that hold about 10 strands of hair? Cute, but I barely style my hair and I certainly don’t get that intricate. I slashed what I had nearly in half. Now I’m doubling down on my pledge to use things up before buying more/different versions of the same.
Another day, I went through jewelry – I decided that I needed to fix or toss any damaged pieces, get rid of things I knew I’d never wear, and keep things that either meant something to me or filled a need. Dozens of costume jewelry earrings that I never wore, gone. Fun but heavy necklace that I avoided because it gave me a sore neck, adios. I sold a few “real” pieces to the jeweler which paid for repairs to the damaged items I loved. There are a couple of items I kept “just in case” or because parting with them felt a little heartless (even though I wasn’t sure I’d ever wear them). Once again, I cut the amount down by about half.
And all along the way, I’m going through my wardrobe yet again to see what I can do without.
#3: It’s still so tempting to buy more stuff.
Even while I’m in the middle of my crusade against clutter, a trip to the store presents temptations to go right back to a glut of stuff. I stop into a store to look at sandals and try on some dress shoes, hiking boots, and sneakers too. Granted, in the ideal clutter-free wardrobe I have in my mind, I’m still missing a few pieces that I consider part of the minimum. And I’m damned hard to fit (please) so I try much more than I buy. But a trip for one thing can become wandering around “just looking” at a plethora of other things so easily. And what about those ever-so-appealing great deals that are just so hard to pass up? That thing that I want (but don’t need) now at 50, 60, 75% off?? How can I refuse such a great deal?? Why not buy that handy <insert activity specific item here> for the few times a year I <insert activity>?
#4: I’m very tired of this nomadic, bi-local life.
One of the things that I tried to explain to my ex last summer was that he was keeping something intangible – not just the house, but a place that was truly “home.” While I have been extremely fortunate to have wonderful friends and family whose generosity has allowed me the luxury of time to find the right space (that allows dogs!), I have spent the last near-year feeling displaced. Out of place. Picking up and moving after a couple of months or at the end of every week – even though the things I’m moving are small and easy – is exhausting to me. I yearn for a place to make my own. More accurately, “our own” as I make the cohabitation leap with Dave. Somewhere to settle, relax, find my new normal.
This nomad is weary…
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