Moving. It’s that time of year again. I love living in new places with new people, but the idea of packing and unpacking everything I own makes me want to escape to Belize where no one can find me. Or at least El Paso. I have a bunch of stuff. And when I say stuff, I mean crap. The inventory includes a bundle of buttons, coloring books from high school, and a dress-up wardrobe that rivals the size of my everyday-wear. I’ve hoarded old workbooks, an unopened quill, and a recently purchased sandwich toaster. The interminable multiplication of junk makes me feel like Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes, my favorite comic) battling his meal:
I don’t know where it begins or ends, what’s up or down. But unlike Calvin, I don’t know how I could part with any piece of it. Upon pulling out any item from my hoarded horde, I initiate a sequence that is both unhealthy and unbelievably predictable: I keep everything. Let’s say I decide to “go through” some of my old boxes. For most, that process includes sifting through old items, and tossing unneeded/unused fluff. For me, that means I pull out each worthless gem, turn it over, and find an excuse to put it right back where it was. That t-shirt I haven’t worn in 2 years but takes me back to that one time I wore it at camp during that hilarious skit? Keep it. How about this birthday card dated 1998 from our 3 week resident Japanese exchange student? I’ll treasure it always. Are these the legs of pants from those jorts I cut last summer? Of course! I’ll use those for a craft someday. You can see how persuasive I can be.
Something I hate about packing and unpacking is how time consuming it is. It will take me anywhere from 20 seconds to 2 hours to pack/unpack a single box. A box of kitchen stuff goes pretty quickly (unless I’m unpacking salt and vinegar chips, in which case it’s anybody’s guess). A box of school papers from 4th grade, on the other hand, is quicksand. I pull out a notebook, flip through it, and find a drawing of my best friend whom I decided needed to sport an Old Navy tech vest. I remember I still have an Old Navy tech vest. I go find it in my closet to see if it still fits, and find something in the pocket — an old safety pin. Right, that safety pin I used on that road trip to open a bottle of glue. I decide to put the safety pin in my desk. I start sifting through the papers in my desk, find old awards or thank you letters from Christmas ‘09. As I’m looking through the papers, I decide to sit down. After I look through the papers (none of which I discard), I realize I’m right back to my 4th grade binders and gel pens. This cycle is virtually endless until I decide to just close all the boxes and leave it to future Liz, who will be much more grumpy.
Moving also means I accumulate others’ refuse. “Hey, I don’t want any of this anymore. If you want something, take it.” Those words spell danger. I’ll think to myself, “You know, I might not always need this life jacket, but one day I might, and I’ll be glad I have it.” Or the classic, “That can totally go in the dress up bin.” Dress up stuff and just-in-case stuff account for approximately 90% of my possessions. Tie dye makes up the next 8.4%, and the rest is what I actually live on. All I know is, I am mighty popular once Halloween rolls around.