A Family Builds a Homestead in the Rain

The Weight of Things

In the end, our move will have taken almost half a year– one trip at a time, one trailer-load at a time, one month at a time. But now the essentials and most of the furniture is there, so we’ve reached the point of packaging all the little things we plan to take, and setting aside the things we don’t.

There’s an added weight to an out-of-state move over many hundreds of miles, more so now even than I remember from our move down here. We did it so lightly before, just the two of us, freshly married and exploring new possibilities. Now, we know what we’re leaving behind and mostly what lays ahead– and we recognize the void of what we don’t know.

Going through and touching each thing that makes up the tangible parts of our lives brings to mind the many miles we’ve come. It’s a unique opportunity to really see the things that surround us.

We’re trying pointedly to cut back on material “stuff.” On principle, I’m committed to that effort, but item for item I struggle to let go. Going through my daughter’s baby clothes, her Bumbo seat, her swing– we’ll need it all for the next baby, I say.

But there is a lot. Some of the clothes were barely worn. Sometimes I liked them so much that I didn’t want them to get ruined– so I rarely dressed her in them. How absurd, I recognize now. How irrational to not use something we like when she fit into it for such a fleeting time. I look at the piles of baby clothes and I can hardly believe how fast the time went, or how long the time seemed then.

The days are long but the years are short, wrote Gretchen Rubin. There are no truer words for parenthood.

I took apart my favorite piece of decor and nostalgia– old wooden cubbyholes originally mounted in my grandfather’s office, where I now work. It holds found things of all sorts, tiny pieces of art, stones and shells, the boutonnières my bridesmaids and mom and her friends all made for our wedding, the pie-topper bride and groom that I made with trimmings from my actual wedding dress, which I also made.

But I didn’t keep everything. Some little rocks and knickknacks had lost their value, their memories, and I let them go. In fact, I collected them in a bowl and let my husband scatter the natural ones outside, something he surely long wanted to do. He doesn’t store emotion in physical things, and I envy him that.

One freeing aspect of a many-phased move is that each round of selecting and packing, the things I leave don’t have to be immediately thrown out or gotten rid of. I can tell myself that they’re just not coming yet. And maybe by the end, I’ll have picked out all the things I know I want and let my husband come in and take the rest while I look the other way.

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4 Comments

  1. February 23, 2015    

    I can really relate to what you are going through. As I’m getting older I have decided that if I no longer have an emotional attachment to an object…out it goes. When I was in the military we moved every couple of years and that was great for the “culling” process. Now that we are “settled” I have to make an effort to occasionally take a gander around at our “stuff” and cull. A trick to test how much something means to you is to put it in a sealed box with a “suspense date” and if that date comes and you haven’t opened the box…asta le vista baby. I had a little organizer like in your picture once!

    • February 23, 2015    

      I love your “suspense date” idea. I know the back closet is packed full of all my craft stuff– boxes I haven’t opened in years. But I can’t help wondering if I might need some of it one day! As my husband said yesterday, one box at a time.

  2. February 23, 2015    

    This is so hard—and something I struggle with, too. (Though I go through phases when I just want to throw everything out, too—usually after the eighteenth time of tripping over crap and not being able to find what I want!) I helped my grandmother part with some things by taking photos of the possessions when she moved. She couldn’t take everything, but she still has the images of what she gave up. Maybe that’d help you too? It’d make a beautiful scrapbook—or blog post. 😉

    • February 23, 2015    

      That’s a nice idea! I find that a big part of not wanting to get rid of things is guilt– like my grandmother’s cut glass. I don’t like it, it’s huge, it’s fragile…but who just gets rid of their grandmother’s cut glass?! I don’t know…. moving is actually helpful, especially when I get down to the wire on packing, for forcing me to make quick decisions.

Welcome!

I'm Kelly. Writer, crafter, forager, country winemaker, cook. Mama of an awesome toddler and married to my best friend. We recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, where we're setting out to grow, make, and learn as much as we can as the future unfolds.

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