Friday, February 24, 2012


    When I finally decided to close out the house that I’d lived in for more than twenty-five years and move to a distant state, I had to determine what to do with my accumulated earthly belongings.  The task was daunting.  It boiled down to a challenging list of choices: move the object, store it, sell it, give it away, or throw it out.
    Items to be stored ultimately would go into a 10’ by 15’ storage unit; a clean dry vault composed of a concrete floor, steel walls, and a roll-up door.  To make best use of this limited space, I packed many smaller objects into boxes purchased at Home Depot.   Dutifully I wrote on the box tops the generic nature of their contents: winter clothes, family photos, pots and pans, etc.    Ultimately it became a stacking task, like a game of Tetris, fitting boxes of several shapes into tightly fitting walls of artifacts.  A narrow isle gave limited access and offered a vague promise to return and retrieve.  
     As I taped box after box shut the finality of my move began to hit home.  Storing the boxes temporarily freed me from the burden of possessions.  I was trending back to the foot loose days of my youth, where everything I owned fit into the trunk of a ’62 Chevy, with room for a couple of dogs and a hitchhiker in the back seat.  But depressingly, I began to feel that I was losing these objects, as if the cardboard cartons somehow had the power to swallow them whole and render the contents sterile.  I was losing my visual and tactile connection to them, that up to now I had always taken for granted.   I could no longer slip-on my well-worn baseball glove, chop veggies with a favorite shape knife, or hold the smooth grey rock collected  from a favorite secret shore.    It was disorienting and disconcerting.
     Articles of some monetary value I sold at a moving sale, held two weekends before my departure.  I announced to each arriving visitor, “This is a moving sale, and I’d appreciate if you’d help me by moving some of these things down the driveway and into your vehicle.”  I was generous with the pricing and offered a story, when requested, for each item.   The event had a festive tone.  The shoppers were generous with their stories in return as they picked though the relics of my times.  Many customers came back a second day, tempted to buy more (I mean who could resist a half bag of cement or a remote controlled gorilla head?) and perhaps pick up on previous conversations.
     It felt good knowing that these objects would have a second life, bringing pleasure and utility as they were repurposed.  They too were being separated from me, gone but not sterilized, gone to bear new meaning.

Post a Comment