I’m not exactly a light packer (it’s the Gypsy blood, I’m sure). For example, when I go up to my Julie’s cabindo (cabin + condo –try to keep up) for a quick Mamacation weekend, I bring the usual pajamas, yoga pants, cozy sweaters to sleep in and/or wear out in public, but I also bring things like my microplane, a balloon whisk, really good olive oil, and sweet tea vodka.
I bring 20-30 magazines, several knitting projects, a few baking cookbooks, beauty products to play with, three to five candles, some excellent cheese, stuff for French toast, chocolate sauce, and heavy cream. (I ALWAYS bring heavy cream.) I bring Bailey’s and Haagen-Dazs for milkshakes, pomegranate seeds, hot rollers, and movies. I bring gardening books and my computer and my favorite slippers, a special bowl for jellybeans from the Chocolate Ox, sometimes even slippers or cozy sweaters for Julie to wear –her warmth and comfort are essential to my own.
I rarely remember my toothbrush.
So I have spent months deliberately choosing what I will and will not bring with me to our next house, wherever it is, whatever it is. Yes to the sofa we’ve had since we got married twelve years ago, on which I nursed all three of my babies, talked with my eternal friend Jenifer on the phone from about 1:00 until maybe 4:00 one morning a couple of years ago, and where I was sitting when the call came about Kyle. No to the wardrobe we bought when we first got to Cleveland, which looked a lot like a coffin and in which we housed a television that stuck out the back of it like a goiter. Done with that.
Yes to the patchwork blanket I knit over the course of several years, yes to the boxes and boxes of old letters and baffling preschool artwork (what is that? Why did she paint it brown? Are those CHOCOLATE CHIPS stuck to it? We don’t do that to chocolate –I’ll be speaking to her teacher). Yes to all of my plants, my baking pans, my embarrassingly vast candle collection. Yes to everything my friends have ever given me. Yes to love notes from Brian, which usually have fewer than 25 words (how does he DO that?).
The house is all cleaned out; we kept only what we value and everything has its place.
No to 90% of the mysterious, ancient computer and electrical cords that had been winding and twisting around the basement like vines from the Little Shop of Horrors. No to the never-used electrical appliances, the old bars of soap, the curtain panels from the old house that shrunk in the dryer. No to the horrible, HORRIBLE popping vacuum toy some sadist bought for my kids one year. And no to the old baby swing, Pack N’Play, and high chair (sigh).
The house is all cleaned out; we kept only what we value and everything has its place. The car, in stark contrast, looks like a mobile Hoarders endorsement (again, I blame the Gypsy blood). Last night, while we were getting in the car to drive aimlessly around the Twin Cities for an hour during a house showing, Henry tripped over a piece of car. That’s how he put it: “I tripped over that piece of car next to my seat.”
The “piece of car” is the section of front bumper that I lost to a curb in the lighting store parking lot several weeks ago (shut up –it was snowing; nobody would have seen it). I don’t know why I’m hanging on to it except it seems like it might be important to the people who will one day (not anytime soon) fix it.
There’s laundry back there too and some giant colorful pipecleaner thingies I bought Caroline for her birthday but haven’t let her play with since we put the house on the market because they leave little fuzzies everywhere (don’t make that face –I’ll give them back to her when we’ve got a signed purchase agreement). Juiceboxes, some gorgeous black leather boots of mine that need to be re-heeled, medical journals, bills, drycleaning that needs to be taken in, and the usual school rubble –broken pencils, fliers for softball or Tae Kwon Do, a shoe, a boot, a mitten.
Things I have to fix. Things I have to give back. Things I have to sort or pay for or find. Things I’m always carrying around with me in some form or another wherever I go. Things I didn’t pack. Things that aren’t for my comfort or anyone else’s. Things that rattle around as I travel, reminding me I’ll never be done deciding what to keep, what to leave behind, what to fix, what to try and find. Things that reveal my imperfection and vulnerability and uncertainty. Things that tell me that’s just fine as long as I’m moving.