In late 2011, I moved from the house I’d lived in fourteen years. Not a big deal to some folks, but I’d become entrenched. Aside from a couple cars, it was my first grownup purchase, and my father and I had taken a rotting-down structure and turned it into a snug little hideaway.
But, after years in the same house and the same job, I needed to be pried from my rut — in truth, I was more than ready for a change — and an opportunity arose to help my family for a year.
I could have just rented or leased the house, and come back to it after the year of sojourn ended, but that would mean an anchor around my ankle, pulling me back to old ways.
So the house went on the market. I pared down belongings from those for a three-bedroom house to those for a studio apartment, and moved twelve hours away from friends and parents.
It wasn’t as traumatic as I’d expected. Sure, I missed hanging out with a few folks: Mom didn’t have a movie buddy; Dad didn’t have an excuse to go wandering around taking photos with me on a lazy afternoon; I couldn’t plan a weekend trip with friends. But I wouldn’t trade that year for anything.
My brother spent it in Afghanistan, so that wasn’t so great, and the nieces had to become accustomed to me being an authority figure and not just someone to laugh with or snuggle. For a while, I was restless, rootless, expecting to go to work each morning. A different job awaited.
I did a lot of listening and occasional advising (sister-in-law and eldest niece), reading books and singing lullabies (youngest niece), and a lot of disciplining and trying to understand (middle niece).
Meantime, I wrote (or tried to write), and increased my editing load, hoping to make a little extra money.
At Christmas, after my brother returned to the States, we headed back home to visit family. I didn’t want to go. Not because I didn’t want to see my parents or anyone else, but because I didn’t want to return there.
What had once been a comfortable and comforting place was no longer my home. I wasn’t at ease the entire week, couldn’t sleep, was happier alone than with others. My old job — which I couldn’t wait to begin each day when I was first employed, but which had become a burden at the end — was almost constantly on my mind. I dreaded meeting any former colleagues at the store or a restaurant.
Neither that job nor those people are part of my life now. So what was the problem?
I still don’t know.
There’s a new adventure ahead. At the end of this month, I’m moving once more, again to a state I’ve only ever visited but never lived.
Now I need to pare down belongings even further, because the next space is only a fraction of the one I currently occupy. Looking at the boxes and bookshelves and furniture remaining, I am reminded of how little we truly need.
Each time I sort, I get rid of something, even if it’s only one item. If it can be replaced, and if it won’t be used soon, it’s gone.
Sure, books will go on shelves, so that’ll solve one space issue, but what am I viewing as valuable that I need to just let go? It’s clutter and an anchor, and will only junk up my space and make me stress.
A life lesson there, I think.