Sunday, July 08, 2007

I officially started packing today.

I still have twelve weeks to go, and it's not like I have that much stuff. But I figure if I can do a box or two a week, when the time comes to make the big haul I'll be able to take a relaxed attitude towards the endeavor. I have a list of things I need to accomplish between now and then -- reorganizing, throwing lots of stuff away, repainting a few things and framing some posters and art, that kind of thing. My goal is to have almost all of it done a week or two in advance so my last week can be devoted to final preparations.

I plowed through three boxes of books this evening, stuff that's been sitting in storage for the best part of a decade. It dates back to when I dropped out of college -- that was 1998. I was profoundly depressed, my first relationship had just broken up, I felt like a failure, I was mired in self-destructive behavior. It was the worst period of my life to date. I don't even remember most of the stuff in those boxes, but what I do remember carries visceral memories.

I found the painting that first boy gave me at the end of my junior year (his senior year) of high school, a few months before our first kiss. It's still in remarkable shape considering the conditions of its storage -- I can still read his ballpoint inscription on the back. I found a card I wrote to my grandmother and never sent. I found file folders full of papers I carefully saved and then forgot about. I found partially-written journals and old photographs, though none of the ones I wish I could find. And books -- books and books and books. Mostly academic books and a few novels I don't remember reading, nothing exciting in this batch. Every phase of my life adds a new layer of books, like the rings of the trees from which their pages were pulped and pressed. The books are some of the hardest objects to decide about -- they're not garbage, and I can always find value in a book. But still, do I really need all of these books of academic essays on European folklore? I'll never read them again (if I ever really read them in the first place), and while each is a small thing on its own, taken together they add up to a significant extra burden. Are they worth it? Or more precisely, are they worth it to me? Books are always my downfall.

And that was just three boxes -- there are more around somewhere, from London, from LA, from each of my various departures. I'm going through them, discarding at least half of their contents, trying to figure out what to abandon and what to carry forward. I'm going through everything -- I'm going through the artifacts of my entire adult life, evaluating each one's meaning and worth. Every time I've left in the past, I left most of this stuff behind, waiting to be reclaimed whenever I finally got settled. Now I'm doing a complete personal inventory. This is the first time that I've decided to take everything at once -- one clean move, nothing left behind. If I want to keep it, it's coming with me, and if I don't, I'm getting rid of it. Shifting the boxes is hard work, but not nearly as hard as thinking it all through.

And yeah, I'm talking about stuff. But I'm talking about everything else, too.
8:35 PM ::
Amy :: permalink