Today we welcome Erin Ellia, a writer in transit, as a guest post author. She will be blogging her move discussed in this post at TheHouseAndI.blogspot.com.
I’m preparing for a move — a big one. I’m leaving my husband and our three-bedroom Boston-area house to sublet a furnished room in a Times Square apartment by myself. The soon-to-be-ex and I are trying to do this as amicably as possible, but I have to admit I laughed when he asked if I’d thought about what I might want to take with me. Honestly, the first thought that popped into my head was, “Well, I suppose they sell toothbrushes in New York…”
See, the soon-to-be ex is an inveterate clutterer, and I am emphatically not. It’s been a constant battle through the years. But no matter how Spartan an attitude I’ve always taken toward my stuff, I know it’s not realistic to move to New York without so much as a toothbrush. Is it? No. I’m 40 years old and every thing I’ve ever owned is in this house — there’s got to be something in it I want to keep.
Besides, I’m only renting the furnished room until I get my bearings in a new city. I really will need just a suitcase and toothbrush in the beginning, but soon enough I imagine I’ll be wanting things like furniture. I plan to winnow my half of our bulging houseful down to a minimal, manageable amount, to store in my father’s basement for the time being, until I find the quaint little rent-stabilized divorce-pad of my dreams.
It so happens I’ve done this for two households so far this year. In February, I helped an elderly friend move to assisted living, and last month I cleaned out my mother’s house (she passed away last fall). The way I see it: if I could manage the emotions of both of those fraught situations and still maintain focus on the task at hand, then I should have no problem making rational decisions about jeans that don’t fit anymore, or the broken bunny-rabbit mug I’ve been holding onto since the seventh grade. It’s all about perspective — I’m starting my life over; I’m happy to wriggle away from stuff like snakeskin.
Here’s my strategy:
- Approach my pile as if it belongs to someone else, as if I’ve never seen that broken mug.
- Keep only things I can realistically use in a small apartment — a lamp, a chair, maybe a trash can. If there are duplicates, I’ll take just my best or favorite one.
- Pack a single box each of decorative doodads, kitchen gear, and silly sentimental objects.
- The rest of the items I plan to sell. Books and CDs are (mostly) easy to replace, or a good excuse to finally get an iPod and a Kindle. And, I need to remember there’s not much chance my divorce-pad will actually be rent-stabilized.
I might just keep the broken bunny-rabbit mug, though, as it has been with me for 28 years — exactly twice as long as my (ex-)husband.