Everything Must Go

“To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
– Albert Einstein

Small Dog is not coping well.

Venice, leaving in just a week (cue fits of rage and denial), is in the process of packing up and getting rid of things. It’s stressful.  I have personally benefited in the form of several pairs of pants which she wanted to get rid of…which does nothing to lessen the approaching pain.

My family, hopping the world as we did, got really good at moving.  The formula is very simple: keep the necessities and get rid of half of your personal belongings each time you pack up.  To explain: books stay, your old T-shirts acquired from work, community events, and concerts must go.

The funny bit about moving is when you are going through your things and sorting your treasures from the expendables.  You will inevitably come to the realization that half of the clothes in your closet haven’t been worn in months, a third of your shoes have ragged heels, give you blisters, or are too ludicrously high/colored/pinching to be kept, and you have a wealth of old garbage (shopping bags, boxes, receipts, hair pins, loose change) taking up an inexplicable amount of space.

And thus, The Great Purge.  You sit down in the piles of the stuff you had utterly forgotten you owned and have a candid talk with yourself (which can border on the schizophrenic to outside observers).  The end result of which is that several large garbage bags are stuffed with the things you don’t use, don’t want, or can admit you don’t need.  These items are either claimed by friends, donated, or unceremoniously chucked.  The remaining items are lovingly horded because, after all, you have carefully and considerately come to the conclusion that you absolutely need them.

"What do you mean, Kyrgyzstan? I said Kazakhstan, you fool!"

And a few years later when NATO, the UN, James Bond’s M., etc. tell you that you’re off to Zanzibar, Tokyo, or Belgium, you go through the same harrowing, soul wracking process all over again.  And invariably, all of the things you saved previously will be looked over with disdain (“Why on earth did I keep this?”), and end up in a garbage bag by the front door.

And, depending on the country you’re off to, a good portion of your household belongings will have to go as well.  All of your electronics, for example, because for some reason the world cannot get it together on matching plugs to outlets, much less voltages.  In our area of Suffolk, the building codes demand four houses per quarter acre, an unthinkable thing for the US, which meant that when Dad left NATO and Brussels, a good portion of the house went into storage in Switzerland, or something.

Soon the things we’ve left in small hordes all over the world will converge on our new US doorstep.  Mum, already thinking of decorating, will have boxes, bins, and whole trucks of tables, chairs, bookshelves, books, antiques, artwork, and knick knacks to contend with.  I’m willing to bet the entire family will be surprised to see what turns up.  I certainly don’t remember half of it.

People don’t need nearly as much as they think they do.

7 thoughts on “Everything Must Go”

  1. Change is constant. Good friends endure, no matter the distance. Stuff, well, its the memories that are important.

    The only thing I won’t purge are my books, and the large couple of boxes of actual rocks (odd, pretty, expensive, semi-precious) I’ve acquired over the years (the movers are never amused by the actual realization they are moving rocks).

    Just be happy you don’t have rocks!

  2. couldn’t agree more. have always done the same thing during my moves, and still moved too much stuff in the most recent one! I’m chuckling as I think of your mom unpacking boxes from scattered storage units, rediscovering long-forgotten belongings. and yet, we find comfort and validation in surrounding ourselves with things we love – so I can understand the behavior. even if I know, as you say, that it’s mostly irrational 😉

  3. Ditto that! I can’t imagine the conglomeration of stuff your family must be bringing all together now! I keep thinking I don’t have much stuff, but inevitably, every time I move I come up with plenty of things to chuck.

  4. Our first shipment went into storage 9 years ago. Once it is all delivered there will be a grand and glorious garage sale. For, as per every move, in pioneering the new place not everything has a place for its space. Everyone is invited! For those who can’t make it, watch Ebay.

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