On Packing, Moving, And Starting Over

I don’t part with things lightly. I mean tangible things. I still have play programs from 4th grade, every stupid notebook I used in high school (which are 1/4 thorough notes, 1/4 half-assed notes and half doodles) and most of the kitchen utensils I’ve carted from my various moves between San Diego, Manhattan, San Francisco, and Oakland.

I am moving in three weeks. Twenty days. To a real apartment that is all my own that no one else lives in. By myself. Sans room mate. No boyfriend. Just my cat. Get the picture? The only stuff in the drawers will be my stuff, the only clothes in the closet will be ones that I wear, or at least ones that I plan to wear at some point and are really an investment in future fashion. I digress. The point is, it’s MY space so I want to be really clever about what I fill it with.

To lighten the packing I will have to do at some point (if I can ever stop watching re-runs of Project Runway, reading ‘Cleaving’ and texting everyone I know) I have started being ruthless with throwing out items. I totally tossed half of my warped spatulas, my rusted whisk, a bunch of kitchen towels and a few pots and pans. I feel saintly and practically Buddhist, my mind is clear of clutter and my worldly possessions diminish by the day.

Except for one tiny detail.

I’ve been buying a lot of new stuff. I blame the Internet, my penchant for retail therapy, and late nights where my insomnia is soothed by online shopping.

But there is logic in this madness. I had about seventeen knives, all in various stages of dullness and disorder, that needed to be thrown away. Well, you can’t really expect to cook without a knife unless you plan on opening a lot of things like a feral cat with your teeth. So I threw out sixteen knives and bought one perfect new one. Now I have two- one for cutting big things and one for cutting small things. I will not “need” another knife for at least four years. Of course I’m sure I’ll purchase one, because I’m a sucker for things that are sharpened and shiny, but I have no knife needs.

As I throw things away I realize why it’s so hard for me. I imprint on material possessions the way that people look at photo albums. Sure, it’s just a half-empty bottle of grapefruit perfume to the casual observer, but to me it’s the exact smell of the summer of 2002. One sniff and I am taken right back to how I felt, to what I was doing and to who I was. How can I throw that out? The same goes for the hideous wooden armadillo door stop that my Mom gave me when I moved into my first apartment. What the heck do you need a door stop for in an apartment, anyway? I keep it because it was so sweet of her to challenge her agoraphobia to drive it all the way over to my new place. When I think about throwing it away I feel sick inside. I’m terrible at saying good-bye to anyone or anything. It’s even hard for me to finish a book sometimes because it means that the story is over.

So here I sit, surrounded by things that speak this language only I understand, wondering what to leave in an alley and what to find a place for in my new home. Many things are changing. This will be my third move in thirteen months and I hope it will be my last for at least a couple of years. I want so badly to cling to something familiar, something comforting but I know that the only way I am going to keep growing as a person is by learning to let feelings happen and not to hold onto things that distract me from pain. It’s very sad that I am leaving behind a comfortable life in pursuit of one that is going to be a mystery. It’s very sad that I can’t fit all of my stuff into my new place. But, as a very wise musical once said, “To walk away, you must leave something behind…”

What am I leaving behind?

A whole collage of images just flooded my head, some of them sweet enough to bring me to tears and some of them nasty enough to make me almost forget about the sweet ones. Everything balances out for the best and I just keep trying to have faith that for every memory that is part of my past, for every heartache that is part of my future that there are new adventures to embrace and new loves to discover. Moving on isn’t easy but I know that I’m ready to walk away. I’m ready to embrace a new future, with hopefully less wild spending, put together exactly as I want, with room for adventure and plenty of welcome new beginnings.

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