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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Like Going to your Own Funeral

Packing is like going through your own effects after you've died, and wondering why you held onto any of it and what could you have been thinking of when you bought it.
I seem to pack up my stuff and move every two or three years or so. On the whole I'd rather have surgery. I've moved (seventeen times at the last count), and I've had surgery, and surgery is better. It is over in a few hours, you don't have to do it to yourself, and any parts of you that are removed during the process are decently disposed of before you come to.
I accumulate objects like dust on a lollipop. I'll probably be reincarnated as a Bekins van.
Moving is when every little stupid thing you ever owned, bought, or tried to do something with steps up and asks you WHY DID YOU KEEP ME FOR SO LONG? WHAT MADE YOU THINK YOU COULD EVER USE ME?
If you are a pack rat like me every little item has a meaning all its own. Memories, pleasant ones usually, come flooding back as you decide whether it's worthwhile to keep the unique and rare and delicate object that brought them there or wonder whether it isn't time to just let it all go and live in a bare, spare room with nothing but a bed, a table, chairs, a dish or two, and the cat.
For a while when you start packing it looks as if nothing is happening. That's when you pack the boxes with tears in your eyes, thinking that you will never, ever, get this stuff to go away, that the house is expanding with more stuff to fill the space that's vacated when you pack the boxes. This may in fact be true. It's when you fantasize about Japanese minimalist decor and vow to give everything to the poor. You haunt the building's basement and lend new meaning to the word 'garbagepicker' when applied to clean corrugated boxes; My Christmas presents were nice boxes from various objects that, when retrieved from the recycling bins and placed inside the larger packing crates, almost fit. It's like working on a faintly sinister and not quite complete jigsaw puzzle. Since no box is standard size lots of them almost fit. Which makes me almost lose my mind.
After all this packing the last thing I want to bother with is buying more stuff but after a few bookcases collapsed on me during the process (fortunately with no damage to me or the books or the cat) I bought some wire shelves on Ebay and will have them stay in their boxes so that they can be unpacked just ONCE when we get to somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area sometime in June. And they'll store the rest of the stuff that is now in the boxes. It remindes me of the Peanuts strip where Linus buys a wastebasket but has nowhere to put the thing's packaging except--inside the wastebasket--putting him back to Square One.
in the meantime, I keep on packing.
Whoever said seeing new places was good for you obviously was traveling light or was living at home with mamma.
And to think I used to enjoy this.
Well, when I get to Toronto, I hope all the angst and worry will fall away like excess packaging. But right now all I want to do is just rest and not have to put things on top of, inside of, or around other things. The cat being a natural exception to this rule of course. I must constantly reassure her that she will not be put in a box; she noodles around in the packing paper and runs with a crazy pattering sound up and down the hall when I tape the boxes shut.
I think we are both getting a little loopy, to tell you the truth.


Brett W. McCoy said...

I'm going through similar fun -- not moving but we had new flooring and carpeting put in, plus got all the walls painted, so we had to pack up a lot of stuff, move stuff around so the contractors could do their work.

The house looked like a demilitarized zone after it was all done, and now we are having the fun of going all of our CRAP (packrat syndrome here, too) and getting rid of lots and lots of stuff and making many trips to the local waste transfer station. It's just amazing that even after hauling away many loads in the minivan, the place is still cluttered and nothing where it should be. Argh.

And I have way too many books. :-)

Nancy said...

Yep. But at least you don't have to schlep it all to another city/country.
I used to think that books were not something to scrimp on. Believe it or not I bought very few last year (I've been prepping for this move for a long time.) But art books are the heaviest ones of all, and after gleaning the ones that I didn't need they still make up the majority of the packables.
I came to a really radical decision yesterday. My repro Disney desk is not going. It's seven feet long, weighs nearly three hundred pounds, and won't fit in a smaller space. But the best reason not to bring it is that it can be easily replaced...and not with the Ikea "Ivar" desks I used to use, though those are good too.
Heavy duty metal wire shelving can be used to custom build a wonderful animation desk with all the shelves and drawers I need and best of all, it packs down to nothing.
And the materials are available in Canada. (No need to ship!)
So I'll build a new desk when I get there and best of all, I can do it with no tools.

Good luck with repositioning the stuff. It often looks better somewhere else, trust me.

Lone Primate said...

You're moving to Toronto? It's interesting... I must have spotted your blog via We Move to Canada. :) I had it in the links here and was trying to remember the context. Your profile says you're in upstate New York. I'm curious as to what's different enough across that fairly close frontier to make all the trouble worth your while... if you don't mind my asking, that is. :)

Nancy said...

Hi Primate,

I made a new post to answer your question. You are welcome to write to me privately for some more reasons if you need them. The job is of course a major reason, but I'm looking forward to a greatly improved quality of life as well.