Maybe it would be good if people had to move every five years. Well, OK, not if they are living on ancestral land or something. Then they could have a reprieve. But moving is a valuable experience. Assessing our possessions, our sense of place, our attachment to things, what we retain, what we slough off, what gives us solace and comfort and lifts our spirits. What we need to see every day to keep us remembering. What we need to hold before us, focus on, keep in consciousness. These trappings of everyday life. Trappings, now there’s an apt word for this stuff.
During my college years, I moved every year, often more than once in a year. I could fit everything I owned into my car. I used to say that when my stove got dirty then I moved. Perhaps the only reason I have stayed put longer than a year since I met Ron is because he cleans the stove. The only place that I have ever really settled into was the Ranch. It was home. All the other places were just houses. And now I’m getting ready to abandon another one. This weekend I have started packing boxes in earnest and stashing them in the garage to get our house ready to “show.”
Over the past few months, we have gotten rid of a lot of our things. A couple of weeks ago we had a yard sale. This week I sold the children’s bunk beds to a young couple with a heap of small children. They didn’t mind the stickers my children had put all over the bunk bed rails. They said their children would love them. I was surprised at how sad it made me to see those bunk beds disappear. But I keep telling myself that I’m getting rid of objects and not the experiences they connote.
Before the yard sale, Ron and I went through a back corner of the garage, where he had haphazardly tossed a bunch of his stuff when we moved to this house, nearly six years ago. He had never looked at the stuff in these boxes or figured out whether or not to keep it, just threw it on the moving van at the Ranch and never looked back. He decided to part with a lot of junk, which I applaud, since he’s a hoarder. We had a good laugh when we discovered an unopened box labeled Dad’s Old Clothes – Garage Crap in Akili’s handwriting. When we opened the box we found Ron’s underwear that he had looked all over for on the first day in this house and never found. He had to run out to Penney’s and buy himself some more at the time. That Akili. Gotta love him.
Leaving the Ranch was a heart-wrenching move for me. So different from the move I am now preparing to make. I anticipate leaving this enormous house and look forward to finding a modest house that is more my style. Although I am keeping too many things, I am also divesting, and that’s a relief. (The Hospice Thrift Shop loves me.) But I recently read an article about things that creative people do and one of them is that we surround ourselves with objects of beauty, objects that inspire us. It’s almost as if the truth and beauty in these objects, these pieces of art and books and music and photographs and fabrics and natural found items, as if this rubs off on us by proximity. Becomes an extension of ourselves. Each one with a message or narrative that informs our being and our creative work.
Moving is also a nourishing creative activity since that upheaval, that change, provokes us to rethink and enter into transformation. Old things cycle out and new ones cycle in. Good for the soul. Even so, I confess that I don’t wish to move again anytime soon. It’s such an effort and I’m getting too old for this. Besides, I like to plant trees, and they don’t move from place to place. When I leave this house, the thing I will miss the most is my yellow peach tree. I planted it the year I moved here and it has grown spectacularly. Right now it’s in blossom with brilliant pink blooms. I will truly enjoy my last season of eating the fruit of it. And then, I’ll move.