Essentials

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Nothing teaches you what your essentials really are like moving.

We've spent all weekend going through the house, picking up items and asking each other "are we going to need this in the next week?" Usually, the answer is no, and into one of the countless liquor store boxes it goes. Turns out, there are really very few things we need in the next week. Some clothes, some toiletries (and I'll admit it, I kept more of those out than I strictly need), bedding, coffee making utensils, dog and cat essentials, and that's about it.

Which leads me to wonder: if I don't need it in the next week, why do I need it at all? How can it be that 95% of our stuff falls into a category of "not immediately needed"? Clearly, some of it is needed: dishes and pots and pans, for example, are not much needed right now, but are needed in general. Most of those liquor boxes, however, are full of things that could be (and in some cases, have been) out of sight for weeks now, and not really missed. Thirty or more boxes of books, for example. Six mirror boxes of art. The three Rubbermaid tubs I filled with clothes that I don't need in the next two weeks. Several hundred CDs. Countless boxes of stuff I can't even categorize, much less explain why we have.

Every time I've moved, I've moved with more stuff. For the first six or so years of living on my own, I had a room of stuff--a dorm room, a shared house. Then we moved here, and both of our rooms of stuff became a house of stuff, then a bigger house of stuff. Suddenly we really do need the 26 foot Penske truck and I am wondering when I got so weighed down.

And it's clearly only going to get worse. The house we're moving out of is about 1,200 square feet. The one we're moving into is 2,200. The next time we move, we're going to have even more stuff. But the amount of that stuff that we actually need, as evidenced by what we keep out for the last week? It's going to be exactly the same size.

5 Comments

I am astounded to see how much I've ended up with just having lived in Korea continuously for the past two years - I might be subletting my place to the teacher subbing for me and I've been cleaning it all up hardcore. There's just so much of it all!!! And I only live in a tiny studio - I'd be a disaster let loose on a whole house.

So right.

We had a baby about a week after we moved last year, and so many boxes never got unpacked. If we didn't need *that* much stuff for a year, we do not need it! I've tried to be brutal with the throwing out lately. When I feel sentimental about a thing, I take a picture of it. Then toss it...

The last time I moved, I kind of had the opposite reaction. I took the opportunity to throw out a lot of old crap that I had (and could not justify holding onto anymore). The result was that I only took stuff that I actually needed or that really, for whatever reason, actually mattered to me. But then, when I loaded everything into the U-haul, I stood back and asked myself "Is this it? Are these meager possessions the sum total of my life so far?" It was actually kind of depressing that my entire life fit into a space that was, all things being equal, not that big.

I know the feeling. When i moved to boston, i brought a duffel bag, and a steamer trunk.

9 years later, even the thought of moving across town makes my lower back ache.

It is so true. I am moving in a few weeks and honestly I want to take nothing more than a suitcase, but the paperwork alone is overwhelming!

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